Weekend Roundup: ENDGAME review

It’s another s-l-o-w week at the box office when the number one movie is a small-budget horror flick The Possession and it barely cracked $10 million! I skipped the cinema this weekend, though I was initially anticipating The Cold Light Of Day. But the utterly dismal critical rating (9% on rotten tomatoes!!) dissuaded me for shelling out 10 bucks to see it, no matter how much I LOVE Henry Cavill. Ah well, best to just wait for the rental methinks.

So Friday night, my hubby and I decided to see a little-seen thriller/drama ENDGAME set during Apartheid in South Africa. I’m glad I stumbled upon this film because I had never heard of it before. I was just looking at the positive reviews of Dredd 3D and was curious who had directed it, which brought me to Pete Travis. Seems like nobody has seen this film as I asked three times on Twitter about it and got zero response. Only my pal Ted replied saying he hasn’t even heard of it! Ah well, read my mini review below, I think it’s a worthy film.

I also got to see Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The reason I’m curious to see it is because a few weeks ago I heard that Keanu was reportedly keen on making Bill & Ted 3! And since I haven’t seen the original, I though what the heck. Well, it’s definitely a silly movie in the vein of Wayne’s World, but it’s good fun and quite a hoot to see how Keanu hasn’t aged that much in 23 years!!

Anyway, here’s my review of:

ENDGAME (2009)

apartheid |əˈpärtˌ(h)āt; -ˌ(h)īt|
(in South Africa) a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.

The subject matter is quite heartbreaking, as is any movie about racial segregation. Based upon the book The Fall of Apartheid by Robert Harvey, the movie is a dramatization of the covert discussions between the African National Congress (ANC) and the National Party, that brought down the Apartheid regime.

It starts off with a suspenseful scene of Jonny Lee Miller‘s character being ‘smuggled’ into the black township to hear about the suffering of the black Africans. I thought he was a doctor at first, but it turns out Michael Young is a businessman, a public affairs director for Consolidated Gold Fields, a British gold-mining company. Young ends up being the key individual who brought about the controversial secret meetings between the two opposing parties, down to securing a country house in Somerset, England to host the talks.

For a film that barely has any action or shootouts, the level of suspense is quite high. Despite not having a lot of knowledge about who the main key players are, I quickly sympathize with what each of the players signed on to, and the risk that came with it. Travis’ direction depicts the predicament subtly but efficiently, it’s a slow build-up to the momentum but he manages to keep it engaging.

I did get a bit dizzy from the hand-held camera work used in some scenes, and in this case I don’t think it’s really all that necessary to use this technique. Fortunately, there are a lot going for it here that keeps me intrigued. The filming location in Cape Town definitely helps enhance the authenticity and atmosphere, but what really sells the film for me is the cast, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor as Thabo Mbeki from the ANC side. Ejiofor has this aura of intelligence and gravitas that is perfect for his role, and he also carries the emotional moments very well. There’s a scene where he’s overwhelmed with shock and fear following a car chase and you just feel he’s thisclose to falling apart.

The rest of the supporting cast is full of B-list actors who are excellent in their roles. Miller does a good job as not only the ‘instigator’ but also the ‘moderator’ of sort, and he depicts the role of a quiet hero in a perfectly-understated way. At first I thought that Mark Strong‘s character is the usual bad guy type, but there’s actually more to it than meets the eye. The only one I wasn’t too keen on is William Hurt as philosophy professor Willie Esterhuyse, but mostly because I can’t understand most of the things he’s saying with his odd Afrikaans accent. But yet the crucial scenes between him and Ejiofor are terrific, their slow bond of trust is intriguing to watch, those scenes are one of my favorite parts in the movie. Derek Jacobi also has a brief cameo here as Miller’s boss, but it’s always nice to see him deliver lines the only way he could. Last but not least, NYC actor Clarke Peters delivers an emphatic performance as Nelson Mandela, the thing that strikes me about the quiet hero is how his inner strength helps him to stay calm during even the bleakest moments of his life. It’s truly extraordinary what he went through, but even more remarkable is how he survived such an ordeal with grace.

At the end of the film, some facts are shown as to what happens to the real-life characters following the meeting. Though it still take years before the reign of Apartheid ended, it showed what the courage of a few brave men could do and the power of hope in humanity. I highly recommend this one. It’s a sophisticated historical drama on an important subject that’s well-written and well-acted. It’s not a ‘sensational’ movie, uplifting without being emotionally-manipulative, which is perhaps why it flew under the radar.

4 out of 5 reels


Thoughts about this movie? Also, did you see anything good this past weekend?

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26 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: ENDGAME review

  1. Yeah I’ve never heard of it before, I might have to give it a rent though. I do like Ejiofor and Hurt.

    I used to watch Bill’s and Ted’s Excellent Adventures many times in junior high, it’s reason why I still call men dudes. Ha ha.

    I didn’t see anything over the weekend, it’s football season now, so I’m a couch potato on Sundays. My date and I thought of going to see a movie Friday night but we couldn’t find anything interesting so we passed on going to the cinemas.

    • If you like those two actors then this is definitely a must-see, Ted. Yeah, I finally caved in and just watched Bill & Ted’s on Ivan’s computer. It’s so darn silly but fun, I’m curious how the third one’s gonna pan out, I mean Keanu’s not exactly a spring chicken anymore, ahah.

      Ah yes, football season. Good thing the Vikes win right away, that’s gotta be quite exciting for the fans :D

      • Ah yeah that Vikings game, they got away with one. I think it’s going to be another long season, I think next year is when they can compete, the team’s still too young this year.

  2. I haven’t seen Endgame either Ruth. But you’re right about Pete Travis…with the great reviews being handed out to Dredd I think I’ll have to check out more of his work. Bill and Ted is silly fun but I like it. Check out the sequel too Ruth…not as good but still fun.

    • I’m quite surprised to see how good the reviews are for Dredd. I LOVE Karl Urban but the movie just looks sooo violent, I don’t think I have the stomach for it. I’m curious about Travis’ other work though, have you seen Vantage Point Dan?

      Ahah, not sure about Bill & Ted 2 but maybe just for Keanu :)

    • Ahah, I avoid Green Lantern myself, though apparently it’s not a complete waste for Ryan and Blake as they found love on the set :) Mark is quite good here and his character is not the typical one-dimensional ‘villain’ role.

  3. I’ll try to see if i can find this one. As for my weekend, i saw Magic MIke(The reviews of it piqued my interest) and Men in Black 3. Magic Mike i liked overall, although in the second half of the film i was kind of confused as to who the main character was. But even with that complain, i found it a much more successful film experiment than haywire. Men in Black 3 i thought would be crap, but actually ended up better than i expected

    • Oh is Magic Mike out on dvd already? I might give that a rent, the reviews seems to be unanimously positive! MIB 3, not so much. I like the first one ’cause of Tommy Lee Jones, but I don’t really like Josh Brolin.

  4. I had seen it several years ago when it was on PBS and kind of liked it; it told a story about the dismantling of apartheid I did not know the details of. Of course the acting was first rate. All around a solid film.

  5. Weird, this is the first time I hear of this movie. Sounds like a good one according to your review and I do like the cast. I’m going to add it to my netflix queue!

    • Ahah, well I just don’t feel like it. I mean it’s so silly I actually shook my head a lot. Really, I wouldn’t have watched it if it didn’t have Keanu. He certainly looks better with age!

  6. I also caught Bill and Ted’s for the first time not very long ago, and had so much fun with it. I kind of expected it to be dumb- and it was… but in a good way.

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