What makes the difference? Well, it certainly isn’t the plot. You couldn’t write a more corny story if you tried – a 30-year-old underdog from the hard-luck side of town in team of underdogs lead by a rookie coach – it’s almost cartoonish. And it’s not like the movie steers clear of conventions. There are inspirational speeches and training montages a plenty, and even a slo-mo sequence where Vince returns to the neighbourhood to play with his buddies on a muddy evening.
So what is it then? It’s the marvellous Mark Wahlberg for one thing. In his hands Vince Papale is just the kind of brawny, taciturn hero we can get behind – an ordinary guy who doesn’t show how much he’s hurting, except around the eyes. Mixing quiet sincerity with understated passion, Wahlberg makes the character unexpectedly three-dimensional and irresistibly likeable.
He gets some help from a decent enough supporting cast, with the dependable Greg Kinnear in butch mode as the coach. Elizabeth Banks (who freaked us out in The 40-year-old Virgin) is thrown in as the vivacious love interest, but doesn’t do much more than provide light comic relief.
Invincible is also nicely put together, with strong production values and thoughtfully framed shots. The action sequences are particularly good – keeping you in the middle of the action with a minimum of visual fuss. Only the lighting is questionable - a sentimental sepia tone that fumbles to recall “them good ‘ole days”. But, like Kinnear’s horrendous suits and Wahlberg’s dopey hairdo, it just works.
In the end though it’s the little touches that keep the film from turning to mush. Just as Vince is thinking of quitting, he drives through his neighbourhood and sees a kid with 88 – Vince’s own number - taped to his green jersey. There’s a real sense of pride and place and history at play here. South Philly isn’t just a backdrop in this film – it’s a real place with real people. And if that seems corny it’s because, hey, life is pretty corny most of the time, even if we don’t always want to admit it.
- Alistair Fairweather
Invincible should be just another cliched underdog story about football. But, thanks largely to the charm of Mark Wahlberg, it manages to both inspire and amuse.
Just another typical Tom Cruise action film, with nothing to get too excited about. The film is loaded with action-film stereotypes and cheesy one-liners. Read More »
Add your review
Hands of Stone is a bland, unlikable portrayal of a real-life boxer that struggles to hit the highs of Rocky IV let alone Raging Bull or the original Rocky. Mark this one down as “for boxing fanatics only”. Read More »
Add your review
South AfricaCity Press
Johannesburg CBDResourcing Solutions
HousesR 3 220 000
HousesR 1 985 000
HousesR 7 200 000