I think the key to my experience with this film was entering the film with the right expectations. I’d heard many complaints that it wasn’t “as good as Remember the Titans” but I also heard “Gee, I thought this was gonna be a Nelson Mandela biography – what’s all this rugby doing in there?” Knowing that it was a mixture of the two helped me a lot.
As for myself, I thought it was great. Not without flaws to be sure but I found it very inspiring. Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela, recently elected president of South Africa. As the country struggles with racial division, Mandela rallies the national flop of a rugby team the Springboks to go against all odds and win the 1995 World Cup and unite their country through their victory. Impossible much? Especially when you consider their opponents: the New Zealand All Blacks. I’ve been to New Zealand. They’re crazy. Rugby’s their national sport. It’s, like, you hear rugby and you think New Zealand. Ironically, the film failed to mention that 3/4 of the acclaimed team were extremely ill during the match… Although this would have been worth the mention, what the heck. It’s cinema.
Consider this film to be yet another success for director Clint Eastwood. Ultimately, this is not your ideal tough-guy rugby movie, it’s much more than that. Mandela was a real person, and if this movie does nothing but make people think “Is this Mandela guy for real?” then it has succeeded. This is where films do so much more than just entertain, but they provoke thought and further interest in a real-life event. It’s excellent. Morgan Freeman’s flawless portrayal of Mandela was, without doubt, worthy of an Oscar nom. He was the heart of the show, portraying an authoritative but empathetic man. As the Springboks’ captain Francois Pienaar, Matt Damon contributes surprisingly little, and I mean this based on quantity, not quality. Matt Damon is universally popular, that’s certain, but he has proved himself as one of today’s most versatile actors. He deserves an acting Oscar one of these days.
Consensus: the acting was superb, the cinematography commendable, and the direction top notch. What makes it special is its uplifting and inspiring message. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Invictus is a triumph in my book. 7/10