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Invictus Review

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Invictus Review

MORGAN FREEMAN as Nelson Mandela and MATT DAMON (center) as Francois Pienaar in Invictus Invictus” is Latin for “undefeated” and comes from a poem by William Ernest Henley. Henley was twenty-six and confined to a hospital bed when he wrote the poem; his leg had been amputated just below the knee due to tuberculosis of the bone. Henley wrote the poem to state that despite a crippling and potentially life-ending situation, he would be unbowed and would bounce back stronger than ever before. The country of South Africa was in a similar period of recovery in the mid-1990’s. With apartheid having just been put to an end and Nelson Mandela elected to the office of the President. Mandela had served twenty-seven years in prison for being a leader of the anti-apartheid movement and upon his release was looked upon as a hero from anti-apartheid groups both in and out of the country…read more [411mania.com] Clint Eastwood’s Invictus is just about what you would except from an inspirational sports story. But, as a film involving Nelson Mandela and the unification/healing of South Africa, it falls unfortunately short. Eastwood is a ‘classical’ director in most every respect, and sometimes those instincts result in a film of unique power like Letters from Iwo Jima. Other times, they bring about accomplished but stilted ones like The Changeling or Flags of Our Fathers. For Invictus, the award-winning director peers into the South African situation and Mandela’s time as president and hones in on a particular event; the president’s 1995 support of the nation’s rugby team in the World Cup…read more [Atomic Popcorn] McNEIL HENDRICKS as Chester Williams and MATT DAMON as Francois Pienaar in Invictus McNEIL HENDRICKS as Chester Williams and MATT DAMON as Francois Pienaar in Invictus Like Helen Mirren with Queen Elizabeth II and Frank Langella with Richard Nixon, Freeman doesn’t impersonate his famous subject so much as capture his essence. He moves with the stiffness of a former convict who spent years breaking rocks on Robben Island. He talks with the careful emphasis of a man who has spent a long time thinking about what he has to say. You only wish Anthony Peckham’s dialogue didn’t have him speaking almost entirely in aphorisms. Peckham’s screenplay is based on John Carlin’s book, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation. Carlin wrote it with a movie in mind and, indeed, it proves a pithy – if simple – way of encapsulating Mandela’s courageous, controversial policy of reconciliation. In Eastwood’s hands, it’s even simpler – a stirring sports drama with a little politics on the side. But if the movie is largely superficial, it never feels dishonest…read more [CBC.ca] Matt Damon stars as Francois Pienaar in Invictus As Mandela, Morgan Freeman gives us noble, cautious acting; it’s obvious Freeman could do the role in his sleep. It’s the kind of part where someone says of Mandela “He’s not a saint!” because this conception of Mandela is such a saint. Matt Damon’s performance as the Springboks’ team captain, Francois Pienaar, is a tribute to Damon’s plasticity. It’s not much of a part, but Damon makes it a model of recessive, intelligent interpretation. And Pienaar is physically exactly the opposite of who Damon was in The Informant! Unfortunately, the role doesn’t offer much; Pienaar picks up greatness from Mandela’s strength of character by a tour of the great man’s prison cell…read more [MovieTimes] Unfortunately, Invictus disappoints as a sports movie. The game of Rugby can be exciting at times but it is literally the same play over and over again. This is a huge problem when you have 70 minutes of Rugby games that are essentially the same thing. The other problem with the sports story of the film is that you never get to know the team. All I saw the entire time was a bunch of extras playing. We never got to know any of the teammates, Matt Damon’s character, Francois Pienaar, (the captain of the team) never got characterized enough as a character to emote any emotion from me…read more [Spill.com] Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela in Invictus Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela in Invictus Eastwood’s directing takes the story competently from point A to B to C, but it is done in such (forgive the expression) black-and-white terms that while the viewer might find themselves enjoying the movie as it plays out, they will be hard pressed to remember anything memorable afterwards. I would expect this type of directing from the likes of a younger, newer filmmaker, but not one as seasoned as Eastwood. Then again, I have always said that a director’s work can only be as good as the screenplay that they are given to work from. Invictus certainly is no Changeling or Absolute Power, but then again it is no Letters From Iwo Jima, Unforgiven or Million Dollar Baby. If you are looking for a rudimentary sports drama with nothing terribly deep or depressing attached to it for your holiday viewing, you could do far worse than this film. But if you are looking for an inspiring underdog tale with some meat on its storytelling bones, you would be advised to look someplace else…read more [HDR] Some of the best parts of the film occur in the first hour, in which Mandela, upon assuming the presidency, has to rein in his own partisans who want to exact vengeance on the white population after years of apartheid. These early scenes show the dangers Mandela faced and showcase his political acumen, as well as his humanity and psychological insight. Mandela doesn’t want to fracture his country but unite it, and so he seizes on the rugby team – with its millions of white fans – as a vehicle for bringing together all South Africans in a common cause. In his subtle, suggestive way, he lets it be known that South Africa must win the World Cup. “This country is hungry for greatness,” he says…read more [SFGate] MORGAN FREEMAN as Nelson Mandela and MATT DAMON as Francois Pienaar in Invictus It is a very good film. It has moments evoking great emotion, as when the black and white members of the presidential security detail (hard-line ANC activists and Afrikaner cops) agree with excruciating difficulty to serve together. And when Damon’s character — Francois Pienaar, as the team captain — is shown the cell where Mandela was held for those long years on Robben Island. My wife, Chaz, and I were taken to the island early one morning by Ahmed Kathrada, one of Mandela’s fellow prisoners, and yes, the movie shows his very cell, with the thin blankets on the floor. You regard that cell and you think, here a great man waited in faith for his rendezvous with history…read more [Sun Times, Roger Ebert] Invictus Video Review:
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