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.
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