Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Invictus (**)

Invictus. 130 mins. PG-13. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Anthony Peckham. Starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

When one hears that Morgan Freeman is going to be playing Nelson Mandela in a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, two things come to mind: (1) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just got a bit stiff in the pants; and (2) that movie should be pretty good. Based on those expectations, Invictus is nothing more than a well-intentioned, competently filmed mediocrity. Of all the stories to tell about Mandela, Invictus opts for a true, but hackneyed and seen-it-all-before underdog sports story about the South African rugby team that united a country torn apart. Eastwood keeps things pretty mellow and quiet for most of the movie. In fact, the movie is so quiet that you sense a lack of energy. The musical score is very spare too, featuring Eastwood's obligatory and oh-so-dull piano plunking. Man, I hate Eastwood scores. All that quiet fades away in the last half hour, however, when the big rugby match unfolds and Eastwood, a solid actor's director but not all that great with visual effects, cranks up the fake crowd cheering and repeatedly cuts to the same swooping CGI crowd shot. Perhaps the movie would be more exciting if Eastwood and company actually cared to delve into the intricacies of rugby, and present it in a user-friendly manner for those not familiar with the sport. I couldn't tell you a thing about rugby after watching Invictus, and that really dampens any enthusiasm or investment that audience members can have in the final match. Both Freeman and Matt Damon, as the captain of the rugby team, are in fine form, but, as written, there's not all that much to the characters they're playing, and barely any backstory thrown their way. Neither actor is challenged, and apart from the accents, which I'm sure they worked hard on, both Freeman and Damon could play these characters in their sleep. And don't even bother with the supporting characters - none of whom make any impact. Invictus is a noble failure. If you're looking for a movie dealing with Apartheid issues, do yourself a favor and go see District 9 instead.

- John


Post a Comment

<< Home