"Invictus" is (as Rene Rodriguez said) "boring." It surpasses Eastwood's past two efforts, but it does so with emptiness. Well, save one great scene. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen it: Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, reading the title poem, during a shot of his prison days. That's the only time the plot seems to stop for anything. It's as "clockwork" (to quote critics such as Roger Ebert) as you can get. Perhaps I'm a little biased on this front, having read Anthony Peckham's equally dull script (for a script review job at the Playlist). But by design and by style it goes there. It has the same sort of editing strategy as "Julie and Julia," in that whole "good night out at the cinema" thing that Nick Davis was talking about in his blog. Just not my type of film, I guess. I'm having that reaction that Ebert had when he saw "The Longest Yard," went to Cannes, and then came back.
I won't go on like this, though. "Invictus" has a couple of redeeming things. First off, Freeman is decent as Mandela, and although I would have hoped Eastwood would have gone a little deeper, it's a job done well. I would say somewhat of the same about Matt Damon, as South African Springboks rugby captain Francois Pienaar. You don't get much about him, either, but I guess maybe there's not much to know. The film does show them in their homes, but only really in that one scene in the prison do you really see who these men are and how they think. It takes a hallucination of sorts to do it, as well as a powerful poem. Otherwise, this is a poor film. I wasn't a huge fan of any of the acting, especially by the team or the people in small crowds. They all acted as some group, and it felt a little mechanical. A nit to pick, definitely, but that's how I felt. I would compare it to how Ebert felt about "Fired Up!": so unfocused on the movie that he picked up smaller things. Okay. So the cinematography is also pretty nice, by Tom Stern. South Africa is a very photogenic place, though, and when the sunset hits the shacks, it's pretty amazing. The music, criticized by Lisa Schwarzbaum among others, is too much, I agree. This is a mainstream movie, yes, so there are, I repeat again, people who will see this anyways. My suggestion: don't. It's not worth it. C