Warrior is a familiar plot to all the uplifting, and heart wrenching sport stories. It however separates itself from those other movies in it's execution and excellent direction and writing by Gavin O'Connor. It also benefits from great choreography on the fight scenes making it seem all the more realistic. One major fear I had going into seeing this movie is that it could get to sappy and every time it came dangerously close to becoming to corny, the action sequences would kick in or an entirely new scene would.
The story follows two brothers who have had a tough life to say the least. Tommy Riordan, who is played by Tom Hardy, is an ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past from both his childhood and his time serving in Iraq. Tommy returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and begins to go back to what he was good at, fighting. He asks for his father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) to train him as it was the only thing he was good at. Paddy is a recovered alcoholic who has recently found God and trying to make amends for the troubles he caused when he was a drunk. Tommy explains he needs his help for a mixed martial arts tournament named Sparta being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey that awards the winner five million dollars. Tommy's anger towards his father and everything that he has been through in his life comes out when he is placed in the ring as he furiously defeats his opponents leading up to the championship bout where he faces his brother, Brendan.
Brendan is also have a tough time as he is struggling to pay his bills and runs the risk of losing his home where he is raising his children with his wife, Tess (Jennifer Morrison). Brendan is a psychics teacher in Philadelphia who goes to random fights trying to make a couple bucks up until he finds out about the Sparta tournament. Brendan, before being a teacher was an MMA fighter, reaches out to his old trainer from his MMA days and gets in the tournament despite his wife's protests as she doesn't want to have to see him get hurt. Upon reaching the tournament he finds Tommy and tries to reconcile with his younger brother, which Tommy wants no part of. Tommy felt abandoned by his older brother, he felt Brendan left him and their fatally ill mother to have his life with Tess. Brendan despised their father because he felt that he was always playing second fiddle to Tommy as he was always getting trained by Paddy.
Brendan reaches the championship round where he meets Tommy. The two brothers face off against each other and get to put all of their anger out on each other in the ring. While the fight is a bit predictable, it still is a powerful scene at the end of it all that won't be forgotten for sometime. Gavin O'Connor deserves credit for how well written the script is and how well the fight scenes are treated. Each fight scene feels realistically brutal and somehow you almost forget that the brothers are meant to see each other in the championship.
The acting in the film was also very solid with Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. Nolte was the most impressive of the three as in a majority of his scenes you may find yourself holding back tears. He gives such an emotionally charged performance that you can almost feel the pain that his character is going through as his sons constantly push him away while also berating him even more. It is not surprising at all to hear some Oscar buzz surrounding Nolte's performance which would pit against stiff competition with Andy Serkis from Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Tom Hardy was impressive in his role as this film is what will start to make him more recognizable among the public. He has been a very good actor but hasn't gotten to really sink his teeth into a role just yet. He did a good job of adding more to his character through his performance even though his character was pretty much a one note character (he was just really pissed off). However, Hardy was able to relay to the viewer through his performance what happened in his past with very few words. It's also hard to not mention the difference between Tom Hardy in last summer's Inception and Tom Hardy in this film. Upon signing on to this film, he was asked to add thirty pounds in muscle to prepare for this role and the upcoming Batman film. That alone is impressive.
Joel Edgerton was serviceable in his role, he didn't do anything to really standout however. Edgerton's character was also very basic just like Hardy's character but Edgerton didn't make it his own. The two did luckily have a very good chemistry between them which made the scenes between the two that much more powerful. Edgerton was also asked to put on pounds of muscle, not to the extent of what Hardy had to, but it still shows.This is also one of Edgerton's first films as he is beginning to rise in the business, later this fall he was also be seen in the film The Thing.
Warrior was a very solid film that benefited from good acting, a tight script and great direction by Gavin O'Connor. Any fans of mixed martial arts will surely enjoy this film more due to how well the fight scenes are done and a few surprise appearances by a few celebrities in the business of UFC and WWE. I highly recommend this film to anyone as it has something for everyone. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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