Review: Invictus

Took me a while to watch it, and I had my reservations beforehand, but Invictus is simple but compelling.

I think I have my issues with sports films, mostly because there’s very little scope or variety; they almost always tell of an underdog struggling to succeed and overcome adversity, and they always do.
Invictus I suppose is that formula… The South African rugby team become the flag bearers for newly elected President Nelson Mandela’s bid to restore the county’s hope and self confidence. The team are in shambles, virtually a laughing stock on the verge of being disbanded, while the President himself faces ridicule and doubt with his ethics of free-thinking and prosperity. Mandela’s goal to restore his people’s faith is to have their team win the World Cup.

These two characters, Freeman’s Mandela and Damon’s team captain Francois Pienaar, share the strife of a disbelieving public, and really seals the emotional investment of the story. The film is full of unlikely partnerships, from the lead actors to the extras (who make the final struggles all the more entertaining) and it quickly becomes a rewarding feel-good film.
Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon do excellent work in their roles, especially Freeman (can he ever do wrong, seriously?) who gives full conviction in Mandela’s selfless confidence. Clint Eastwood is directing, and fortunately this is less heart-string pulling and more heart-warming and confident.

It does not have an exact antagonist, except for in the final rugby match, other than the potential failure of the characters’ efforts, and it does seem to move along at a steady pace without great causes for concern. I felt there would have been more focus on Mandela’s insomnia than there was, for example.
It is a sport film with a difference, I would recommend it to anyone who is even remotely curious.

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