Invictus DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 7.0
Video    
Audio    
Special Features    
Total    
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Classification: PG
Minutes:
Reviewer: Jamie Kirk

7.0


Invictus

Clint Eastwood’s prolific output continues with Invictus, a story of the South African rugby union team’s unlikely victory at the rugby World Cup in 1995. However it is also the story of Nelson Mandela’s quest to unite whites and blacks at a time of near civil war set against a sporting backdrop. It is an inspirational story of an incredible man, yet even though all the right ingredients are present, comes off as oddly impersonal.

Morgan Freeman plays Mandela, something he has been trying to do for a good while. With a Nelson Mandela biopic on hold, probably not materialising for a long time, Invictus gives him his shot. Freeman works wonders with what he is given, perfecting his mannerisms, which seems somewhat of a shame because the viewer only gets brief looks at Mandela. This may be the story of one very specific time in his life, but it does leave the thought that there could have been so much more to tell, and so much more for Freeman to sink his teeth into.

Freeman shines, and is matched ably by Matt Damon, who plays South Africa’s captain Francois Pienaar. Damon is certainly one of the finest actors of this generation and continues his varied career by notching another great director to his list. Damon lends a dignified performance, and hits all the right notes, be it in his small moments with Mandela, or his rousing speeches in the heart of the scrum. In fact the only complain about Pienaar has nothing to do with Damon. Unfortunately Pienaar is written rather flat, at times being used more as a plot convenience than a full bodied character. This actually makes Damon’s performance all the more impressive, as he manages to breathe life into an occasionally flatly written character.

The direction is also equally competent, which would be expected of Eastwood by now. The rugby games themselves are shot at ground level, which embodies the fierce intensity of the game. However there are some odd choices that bring the film down at some points. The use of soppy “inspiring” music makes the film overly sentimental and syrupy, something that Eastwood does not usually need to make his films more powerful. It is at these points that Eastwood’s stripped down, real approach are betrayed and the film suffers.

In the wake of such greats as Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby and Letters From Iwo Jima, Invictus seems like the black sheep. The performances are excellent, the story is uplifting, yet the execution only works most of the time. At times it seems like a typical Hollywood painting over of complex real world events. At its worst it seems almost like a cynical run at awards, a made for the Academy film, which at this point Eastwood doesn’t need to do at all. Invictus is good, yet it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Eastwood’s finest. 






 
 



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