Clint Eastwood takes on a more inspirational approach to his newest film
"It matters not how strait the gate. How charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain my soul", these words quoted by William Ernest Henley, never rang truer than in Eastwood's newest film, "Invictus." The film is based on the true story of Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman), whom is elected to be President of South Africa, after being released from prison. During his first term, he initiates a unique venture to unite the apart-hied torn land, by enlisting the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Although this film isn't Clint Eastwood's best, it's still one of the most entertaining movies of this year. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon (Francois Pienaar) do a great job portraying their characters. Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Nelson Mandela, presents the viewer with an interesting internal conflict that will allow the audience to deeply engage his motives. Although "Invictus" does fall into a lot of inspirational movie cliches, it's still manages stay on point with the character driven storyline. "Invictus" is definitely one of the most inspirational films of the year.
Featuring a solid performance from Morgan Freeman, as his character presents an internal conflict that allows for the audience to relate to him. Sadly, the film never goes over Nelson Mandela's entire life, nor his other political ventures throughout his presidency. It does make brief references to his marriage troubles, family conflicts, and how the strain of being imprisoned by those he once hated, drastically affected his life. However, outside of one brief scene, when Nelson argues with his daughter over why he wants to unify South Africa, a nation that has been racially and economically divided for years; that's the only scene where it shows the extent of Mandela's family conflict. Which is a bit sad, as it leaves the viewer wanting to know more about the protagonist's past.
Although the plot and dialogue does come off rather cliche, at times, Morgan Freeman keeps the character grounded in reality as he brings a sense of collective calm to the character. Portraying Mandela as a man whom has come to realize that the only way to achieve piece is through forgiveness and unity, using peaceful methods. Not too dissimilar to other civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. or Ghandi.
Matt Damon was pretty good in his performance as well as he plays a rugby captain, whom leads a struggling rugby team that has suffered from mediocrity and harsh criticism from other South Africans. Francois, soon finds a sense of purpose when Mandela inspires him to lead his team to victory, to not only win it for South Africa, but to shine as a symbolic hope that races of all colors could work together to achieve peace throughout the nation.
This film tends to be a lot lighter than Clint Eastwood's normal fair of movies such as "Mystic River", "Million Dollar Baby" and "Unforgiven." However, he keeps the film primarily focused on Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar actions, as it keeps the plot character driven. Thus allowing the viewer to feel even more immersed into the experience of this truly inspirational film.
Indeed, despite it's shortcomings, "Invictus" is one of the best films of the year. If you're expecting this film to go over Mandela's entire presidency, then you'll be disappointed. However, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon make this film worth watching. Truly, one of the most inspirational films of the year.