Monday, July 19, 2010


We hadn’t seen an inspirational, based-on-a-true-story sports movie for a while, and I guess INVICTUS falls into that category. It’s certainly based on a true story and has to do with sports, in this case rugby. In case you don’t know what it’s about, it concerns the efforts of newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela to unite the country in support of the South African national rugby team, the Springboks, who were widely hated by South Africa’s black population. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of politics in the movie as well as the sports angle.

As with any movie directed by Clint Eastwood, INVICTUS isn’t flashy. It’s just a good solid story, told without any fancy gimmicks, and well acted by Morgan Freeman as Mandela (who else you gonna get, they’re practically twins) and Matt Damon as the Afrikaner captain of the rugby team. It’s a little ponderous at times, but for the most part Eastwood moves things along well and keeps the movie from getting too self-important. The rugby scenes are good, too, or at least I guess they are. I say that because, basically, I know squat about rugby. In movies and TV shows about American football, especially, there are nearly always scenes that make me want to say, “That would NEVER happen in real life.” Maybe that’s true here about the rugby, but if so, I wouldn’t know about it. (As an aside, as much as I enjoy the TV series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, while it started out extremely realistic, as the seasons have gone on it’s slipped farther and farther into pure Hollywood fantasy. Doesn’t mean it’s not still entertaining.)

Anyway, to get back to INVICTUS, I enjoyed it and consider it worth watching. All it’s really lacking is the bit at the end where you get an update on what’s happened to all the real-life characters since the events depicted in the film. Had to go to Google for that.


Cullen Gallagher said...

I had been curious about this one, but someone I've missed Eastwood's past few movies in theaters.

MP said...

There's way too much rugby action here and the outcome of the game is much too important not to provide viewers with at least a cursory explanation of how the game works. It just looked like a lot of random running around.

Ron Scheer said...

I thought the movie was OK and told an interesting story. Watched back to back with DISGRACE, however, it makes you wonder about its authenticity. The future for South Africa looks rather rosier at the end than it has turned out to be.

James Reasoner said...

Yeah, I kind of picked up some of what was going on in the game just from watching, but most of it went right over my head.

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

The choice of title is interesting. And it is my favorite poem for sheer guts and an in your face attitude towards death.

A crying shame that Timothy McVeigh decided to use the poem as his "signoff line" before they strapped him to the chair.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-- William Ernest Henley

Troy Smith said...

The only other rugby movie I can think of is 1963's This Sporting Life, which made a star of Richard Harris and is an interesting little movie. Harris' performance is better than the movie in general, I think.