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Jay's Review of Invictus

Jay's Review of
Invictus (2009)




Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer : Anthony Peckham
Cast: Anthony Peckham. Cast: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Julian Lewis Jones, Adjoa Andoh, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern, and Leleti Khumalo Rated ; running time of 2 hours and 14 minutes
Theatrical release Date: 12/11/09


Review Copyright JayFlix, 2009


It takes leather balls to play rugby. Leather rugby balls are the same shape as the ones used in American football, but other than having goalposts, that seems to be the only similarity. Rugby players use no helmets or padding, and part of the game consists of thousands of pounds of straining manpower grunting in a giant mound of flesh on the field. To say that I don't understand rugby is a gross understatement. It is said that soccer is a gentlemen's game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan's game played by gentlemen. Soccer was popular with blacks in Apartheid South Africa, while rugby was equally popular with whites.  
When Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, he realized he needed something that could knit two disparate populations into one country, unified by a common goal. He dreamt of doing just that if South Africa could win the 1995 World Cup Championship Rugby match. The captain of the national rugby team, played by Matt Damon (the "Bourne" franchise and "The Informant!"), is stunned to realize that Mandela expects his mediocre gang to go all the way to the World Cup.  
"Invictus" means invincible or unconquered, which is a terrific title for a sports movie, and this one leaves no cliché behind. You know, the "slender hope against overwhelming odds," "the little guy against Goliath," and "Let's win this one for the Gipper!" (well, for Mandela, but you get the idea). And clichés became clichés because they WORK!  
Many, many years ago when Nelson Mandela first met Morgan Freeman ("The Dark Knight"), he said, "You should play me in a movie some day." Decades of friendship followed, during which Freeman paid close attention to Mandela's delivery, walk, speech and mannerisms. When he had a script that met with approval, Freeman took it to Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino") who signed on instantly.  
This is a big movie that doesn't neglect small details: Mandela's dream of integration started with his own staff and his security guards. The bristling animosity that confronts him is realistic and the gradual easing of tensions is a pleasure to watch. Eastwood and Freeman found a worthwhile topic and made the most of it. Thanks, guys!

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