By Sean Harris ’11
Director Clint Eastwood (“Gran Torino,” “Million Dollar Baby”) loves his Oscars.
He loves them so much that he has continued to direct into the late years of his life.
His latest work, “Invictus,” has all the ingredients of an Oscar-caliber movie; Famous actors, a true story and a winter release.
So does it all add up? The answer is regrettably not, although solid performances keep it afloat.
The film follows the true story of Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman); president of South Africa after apartheid has splintered it seemingly beyond repair.
Mandela has to balance black and white to prevent civil war. His solution is simple and rather improbable; he will use the South African rugby team to unite the country.
This is where the film takes a departure into the typical “based on a true story” sports movie. The only problem with this is that the movie is trying to do two things at once, with the Mandela story far outweighing the clichéd underdog story.
It does not help that the final rugby match seemingly goes on forever and is completely Mandela free.
However, the movie is still worth it for Freeman’s performance. He is incredible as Mandela and the film rests squarely on his shoulders.
Matt Damon as rugby team captain Francois Pienaar does the best he can with what he is given, but he is not given much to work with.
The same can be said for anyone that is not Mandela, and even at times Mandela himself. Characterization is missing in a movie that so desperately needs it.
This could also be due to the fact that we are barely given any introductions to this story.
Apartheid is not explained and the events leading to Mandela’s incarceration are murky. It will take audiences who do not know about these events a while to catch up with what is taking place on screen.
Yet throughout the uncertainty and the unstable direction, Freeman’s performance comes shining through.
3 out of 5 horseshoes.