Movie Review: Invictus

Film: Invictus (“unconquered”) For more info. on the title click here.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon

This film is based on the book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation” and captures the rise of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa post his release from prison and his role in the success of the South African Rugby team in the 1995 World Cup.  Morgan Freeman plays the role of Nelson Mandela, while Matt Damon plays the role of the captain of the South African rugby team, Francois Pienaar.

The movie brings to light happenings during the Mandela Presidency that are fairly unknown in most of the world. The insights into the Nelson Mandela Presidency, his heart felt desires in unifying blacks and whites post-apartheid, his use of rugby as a means to unify the people, his security team comprised of both blacks and whites, his simplicity and affable nature etc.  are all cleverly blended into the script without appearing forced. Morgan Freeman as Mandela is brilliant. Matt Damon has a relatively secondary role in the film and was clearly under utilized. Director Clint Eastwood tries to bring together politics and sports in the film and somehow the focus on Mandela seems to have come at the expense of sports in the film.

Mandela’s conscious attempt in trying to unite the country through rugby is brought out very well at various stages in the film. On the other hand, the transformation in Francios Penaar’s family could have been better handled to make it more believable. His girl friend’s role in the film for instance was needless and had nothing to contribute. Likewise, the change in the mindset of the rest of rugby team did not receive enough attention and did not seem believable either. Nevertheless, the film is an enjoyable watch but its nothing to rave about.  In fact, it pales in comparison to Clint Eastwood’s previous film, Changeling.

p.s:  Since this is a film on Rugby I can’t help but think about “Chak de India” (hockey) and “Lagaan” (cricket). The context of the these films are very different. But the sections of these respective films that focus on sports are so much better handled in the Hindi films.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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