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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

By REBECCA JACOBSON
Arriving with morbidly perfect timing, this by-the-numbers biopic about the recently deceased South African leader tries for Gandhi greatness but fails to hit any sort of mark. Dutifully marching through a highlights reel of Nelson Mandela’s life—coming of age in the bush, practicing law in Johannesburg, helping establish the military wing of the African National Congress, enduring 27 years in prison—Justin Chadwick’s film isn’t savvy enough to investigate any of the more compelling narrative threads. Why did Mandela’s second wife, Winnie, grow increasingly radical even as her husband moved away from such tactics? How did political ideals butt up against pragmatic concerns during the negotiations for Mandela’s freedom? Instead, Chadwick cuts between stirring speeches and soft-focus flashbacks, with occasional context-free bursts of archival footage tossed in seemingly for the hell of it. Idris Elba, despite looking far too much like a linebacker to bear much of a physical resemblance to the real man, successfully adopts Mandela’s commanding presence and distinctive speech patterns, but he can’t save a film so hagiographic and uninspired.
 
  • Genres: Biography, Docudrama
  • Running Time: 146 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, January 3, 2014
  • Country: South Africa
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 [ Brief Strong Language, Disturbing Images, Intense Sequences of Violence, Sexual Content ]
  • Critic's Score: C
  • Starring: Idris Elba [Nelson Mandela], Naomie Harris [Winnie Mandela], Tony Kgoroge [Walter Sisulu], Riadd Moosa [Ahmed Kathrada], Jamie Bartlett [James Gregory], Lindiwi Matshikiza [Zindzi Mandela], Deon Lotz [Kobie Coetzee], Terry Pheto [Evelyn Mase]
  • Directed by: Justin Chadwick [Director], William Nicholson [Screenwriter], Anant Singh [Producer], David Thompson [Producer], Cameron McCracken [Executive Producer], François Ivernel [Executive Producer], Geoffrey Qhena [Executive Producer], Basil Ford [Executive Producer], Sudhir Pragjee [Executive Producer], Sanjeev Singh [Executive Producer], Philisiwe Mthethwa [Executive Producer], Hlengiwe Makhathini [Executive Producer], Lol Crawley [Cinematographer], Rick Russell [Film Editor], Alex Heffes [Original Music], Johnny Breedt [Production Design], Willie Botha [Supervising Art Direction], Patrick O'Connor [Art Director], Cecelia van Straaten [Art Director], Diana Cilliers [Costume Designer], Ruy Filipe [Costume Designer], Moonyeenn Lee [Casting]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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