I have no idea how Clint Eastwood does it. The man is 80-years-old and is still producing and directing movies. And he's not just directing movies that allow him to sit on a set, close to his home, in an easy chair and watch scenes of dialog play out. He's directing movies with complex stories, interesting characters and lots of sweeping action sequences...like Invictus. This is the true story of how South African President Nelson Mandela used the country's Rugby team to help united the country. See, at the time the movie starts, South Africa had just been reunited and racial strife was still rich in the country. The Rugby team you see was left over from the white side of the country but Mandela used it to show goodwill toward everyone. That slight explanation into the background of what's happening in this film might help you enjoy it more than I did. There's nothing at the beginning of the film that would help explain what the hell's going on. Because of that, I spent the first half of the film confused and most of the second half trying to figure out the first half. Eastwood chose to make a true story about an event that not a lot of people know about that centers around a sport that almost no one knows a lot about. That's fine and you can do that, but make sure you guide us at some point. And even when they do try to explain, the thick accents from the predominantly all South African cast made it even harder. My other problem with the movie was that it failed to show how the team was uniting the country until maybe the last 20 minutes of the 134 minute run time. I got the impression that it was happening but never gained a full sense of the scope of it all. That was the fault of the screenplay, I believe. The stars of the film are the ones that saved it. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are always fun to watch. Damon was rather subdued in the film but that might have been because the real life Rugby players he portrays was or he was concentrating on his accent too much to worry about anything else. Freeman though gives one of his best performances as Mandela. Giving him only a wig and some fake teeth, he becomes the mirror image of him. The way Freeman carries himself, speaks, looks, and reacts to others is so spot on that it deserves the attention of the Academy. I realize that I might be in the minority since everyone I was with loved Invictus, but it was too disconnected and too confusing for me. I should've known it would be like that going in since just saying the title of the film is challenging enough.
Invictus (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C+