Endgame DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.0
Video 8.0
Audio 6.0
Special Features 7.0
Total 7.5
Distributor: Madman
Classification: M15+
Minutes: 85 Minutes
Reviewer: Genevieve Fricker

7.5


Endgame

Review: Endgame (2009), Directed by Pete Travis, Written by Paula Milne, Adapted from the book The Fall of Apartheid by Robert Harvey.

1985, South Africa. A car is stopped at a blockade in Soweto. Hiding in the back seat is Michael Young (Jonny Lee Miller), a British national working for mining company Consolidated Goldfields. Nearby, ANC protesters clash with Afrikaner police. Young is in South Africa finding key parties on both sides to begin diplomatic talks in a secret location in England. Whilst few are willing to go to the personal risk of attending, Thabo Mbeki (Chiwetel Ejifor), future president of South Africa and Professor Willie Esterhuyse (William Hurt), travel to lay the groundwork for ending apartheid. Intercut with this, we see Nelson Mandela’s (Clarke Peters) presence in these talks from behind the walls of Pollsmoor Prison.

Resisting the trap of being a stale historic talk piece, director Pete Travis takes the frenetic action energy from previous film Vantage Point (2008) and injects it into every frame of this political thriller. No single shot is static – the handheld camera, shooting through wire fences, windows and from rooftops, is constantly zooming, panning or going in or out of focus, which at times can feel a little disorienting but ensures that the viewer can never relax. It also adds tension to the potentially dry discussion scenes.

Travis works in a language which is at once thoroughly cinematic and realistic. The stark contrast between the washed out South African exteriors and darkly lush English manor interiors, as well as his use of sound (overheard conversations between unseen prison guards, the chatter of a television in another room, or a complete lack of any dialogue or ambient sound) illustrates further a world at breaking point these characters exist in. However, this emphasis on sound makes problems with ADR more noticeable, and the subtlety of these techniques are undone by the cartoonishly evil Dr. Niel Barnard (Mark Strong, the bad guy from Kick Ass, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood and the upcoming Green Lantern). The first shot of Barnard smoking a cigarette after removing the filter received uproarious laughter from my living room.

DVD extras include comprehensive interviews with cast and crew (a particular highlight is William Hurt discussing playing real people on film), and Madman Propaganda – a set of trailers for other Madman releases of a similar theme.

The more I reflect on this film, the more well-crafted it appears to me – each frame, each sound, each cut, drives the tension, and the performances of Hurt, Miller and Ejifor are outstanding, bringing a uniqueness and dignity to the actual people they are portraying. Far from being a self righteous discursion on apartheid, the film actually makes diplomatic discussions genuinely exciting. Endgame can’t help but leave the viewer feeling hopeful.






 
 



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