After 27 years as a political prisoner, Nelson Mandela (Freeman) was released in February 1990 and four years later became South Africa's first democratically elected president. Caught between the black majority's yearning for revenge and the white minority's fear of violence, he tenaciously plots a course of reconciliation. His focus becomes the Springbok rugby team, a loathed symbol of white rule. Working with team captain Francois Pienaar (Damon) as the 1995 Rugby World Cup approaches, he knows that getting the whole country behind them will unite people more effectively than political willpower.
Continue reading: Invictus Review
Raucous, rough energy infuses this film from start to finish, carrying us along even when the slightly over-egged script starts to feel somewhat slender. And it's the terrific chemistry between Downey and Law that makes the film worth seeing.
In Victorian London, private investigator Sherlock Holmes (Downey) is about to lose his partner John Watson (Law), who's moving out to marry his fiancee (Reilly). But the case they've just finished, involving a series of secret-society murders carried out by Lord Blackwood (Strong), just won't end.
Now Holmes' ex Irene (McAdams) is on the scene as well, and things are getting increasingly freaky with more murders and a conspiracy that could lead to a takeover of the whole government. But Holmes' fierce powers of observation are on the case.
The producers blast new life into fusty cinematic stalwarts with their canny choice of director and stars. In many ways this feels more faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories than the dry, cerebral films we're used to. Downey perfectly combines the character's edgy physicality, brainy powers of deduction and sardonic wit. And he and Law are like an hilarious bickering married couple that has lived together just a little too long.
No one else in the cast quite registers. McAdams and Reilly at least play strong-minded women, while Strong glowers satanically from the shadows and Marsan (as the chief inspector) tuts amusingly. The script is mostly smoke and mirrors, weaving in all manner of Holmes' lore, from the original story details to playful references to previous film incarnations (although Holmes never says "elementary", and he never wears a deerstalker).
And if the script isn't nearly as smart as it thinks it is, at least it contains a few nifty twists, including one of the more enjoyable resolutions in recent blockbuster memory. But what we're here for are the fireworks between Downey and Law, a couple of feisty-sexy women and Ritchie-isms like nasty slo-mo fight sequences, witty editing and suggestive lighting. He also offers plenty of refreshingly abrasive vigour to go with the cool effects and a zingy Hans Zimmer score. Bring on the next case.
Alas, Word is filled with little but disappointment, a kooky mix of Girl, Interrupted and Ransom, with Michael Douglas and company collecting a paycheck to plod through a vapid and dull kidnapping thriller.
Continue reading: Don't Say A Word Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.