Invictus (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / History / Sports
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 133 minutes - $35.99 || May 18, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-05-29

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): John Carlin ("Playing the Enemy" Book); Anthony Peckham
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon

Theatrical Release Date: December 11, 2009

Supplemental Material:
  • Picture-in-Picture
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Music Trailer
  • DVD Copy
  • Digital Copy

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Clint Eastwood as a director has had a fairly good track record be it the emotional Million Dollar Baby, the sentimental journey of Space Cowboys or the harrowing drama Mystic River (my personal favorite of his), Eastwood normally delivers. His latest, Invictus, is probably his weakest film to date...

Newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela (MORGAN FREEMAN) is governing a country in turmoil. Blacks versus whites, rich versus poor, the country is in shambles; one side living comfortably whiles the other live in shacks. But Mandela is determined to bring South Africa together rather than playing by race, playing by a national unity. The movie focuses on his big idea by South Africa’s rugby team to bring the country together by winning the World Cup, despite all the odds: one being the team stinks and the other is even fellow South Africans – in something I never grasped – rooted against their own team.

In any event, Mandela requests a meeting with team captain Francois Pienaar (MATT DAMON) and he explains the importance of Rugby for the frail country and says in no uncertain terms that he wants Pienaar to lead his team to an unprecedented World Cup victory.

The rest of the movie shows not only the preparation for the World Cup but also the biases from members of the team, the tensions within the country and Mandela’s own personal troubles, that being his relationship with his kids (though that’s mainly in the background). And there’s where the problem Invictus falls apart.

It’s unfortunate that when you have Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and a great actor in Matt Damon headlining, the movie never makes an emotional connection, just a history lesson on Nelson Mandela and his drive to make the sport of rugby as a way to unify a country that is on the verge of complete destruction. We get told a story that’s supposed to be inspirational but I never was riveted, not once. Yeah, some of the sports scenes aptly showcased rugby’s toughness and violence that makes NFL football look like patty-cake, but did I care about the outcome? Not really; of course there’s not much suspense since the ending is, oh, right on the front cover...

Perhaps it is because I’m from the U.S. and don’t get the importance of the World Cup victory and how it impacted Mandela and his trying to bring together two very different sides of the financial and racial spectrum. For that one should admire Mandela but the film fails to flesh him out outside of words, even spoken by the smoothest voice in Morgan Freeman.

Personally, instead of focusing on rugby and the team’s impact on bringing together South Africa, I would’ve far preferred a biopic on Mandela himself, spanning from his years in jail accused of being a terrorist (played by an upcoming actor) to his election to the presidency (played by Freeman). I think with a good script and still under Eastwood’s direction, it would’ve made for a far more interesting movie. Instead, Invictus is a fine movie but sadly ordinary and when you consider the talent involved, very disappointing.

Overall, I gave this a passing grade as Morgan Freeman’s performance was indeed worthy of his Oscar nomination and although Damon was also nominated, I thought his performance was nice, but I’ve seen better from him.


Vision, Courage and Honor – This is a pretty good picture-in-picture track featuring various members of the cast (including Morgan Freeman) and crew (Clint Eastwood, screenwriter Anthony Peckham) as well as those who worked with Nelson Mandela and the subjects of the film and their experiences. The track also has behind-the-scenes footage and historical stills from the time. One of the nice things about this feature is you can skip forward to the next PiP moment. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Mandela Meets Morgan (28:10; HD) – This featurette covers the Nelson Mandela / Morgan Freeman meeting and features some clips from the movie and features interviews with the members of the cast and crew. The most interesting aspect is seeing footage of Mandela meeting Freeman but the featurette also covers the making of the film as well. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Matt Damon Plays Rugby (6:49; HD) is a basic featurette focusing on the sport of Rugby and turning Damon into as authentic player as possible. It features more interview footage with Eastwood, Damon, Pienaar and many others involved with the project.

The Eastwood Factor (22:23; HD) is part of the longer documentary (available now on DVD) that chronicles Clint Eastwood’s 35 year career in Hollywood from actor to director. Considering I have nothing but respect for the man, I would love to see the full documentary, but nice to at least include some of it here. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Last is the Invictus Music Trailer (2:36; HD), a DVD/Digital Copy Combo Disc (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) and a BD-Live Portal (** Blu-ray Exclusive **).


Invictus is presented in its original 2.40 theatrical aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. Although not spectacular looking as Eastwood likes to keep things a tad darker and more down to earth, the picture here looks good. The detail levels are nice but at times it can be on the soft side.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio meanwhile is decent if not unremarkable if only because outside of some of the Rugby games with the roaring crowds, there isn’t much to judge. The majority of the film is dialogue heavy although there is a splash of depth when the score or regional music crops up.


In the end, Invictus is a decent film that never fulfills its potential. Instead of an emotional swell at the end, I had the worst feeling one could have at the end of a movie: indifference.