Warrior Review- Some Things are Worth Fighting For
Sometimes you can pick your battles and sometimes life brings the fight to you. In Warrior, two brothers Tommy Riordan and Brenden Conlon (Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy) and their father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), all have their own desperate reasons to be on a collision course in a winner-take-all competition to see who is the toughest man in the world.
Yes, it is a fight movie, but Warrior is much, much more. For everyone who has ever had to fight to save their family, everyone who has had to fight for a second chance and everyone who has fought to preserve their reputation and strive for redemption, this movie will bring you to your knees and then bring you to your feet, jumping up and down.
Gavin O'Conner (Power and the Glory, Miracle) directed as well as wrote along with Anthony Tambakis & Cliff Dorfman, the screenplay for his most defining achievement to date. The two up and coming young actors, Hardy and Edgerton, dominate the screen as two emotionally scarred brothers, estranged by their history from each other and their recovering alcoholic father fighting for redemption.
James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and
certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him
into that predicament. But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad,
having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and
buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through
it. ~ Clarence Budington Kelland
Tom Hardy is electrifying as the troubled and reluctant war hero
Tommy Riordan who returns to Pittsburg after 14 years to take part in a
spectacular mixed martial arts elimination which will give 5 million
dollars to the last man standing. He is quick to make clear to his
father who is looking for reconciliation, that all he wants from him is
training and nothing more. Churning around him is the building interest
in his time in Iraq and the incredible heroic story that only drives him
deeper into himself.
Nick Nolte delivers some of his best
work in years and his impassioned attempts to reach out to a family he
destroyed is heart-breaking to watch and yet mesmerizing as you find
yourself rooting for him and his struggle for forgiveness. In the
intense battle with his own inner demons, he is seen identifying with
Ahab's obsession to hunt down his own nemesis, as he listens to an audio
version of Moby Dick.
Tommy's older brother Brenden, played sensitively by Joel Edgerton, is a much-loved high school physics teacher who has hit some hard times. Hospital bills for heart surgery on his young daughter has put his home in danger of foreclosure so the ex-UFC fighter participates in local fights at night to make ends meet. When his wife, Tess Conlon, played by House's Jennifer Morrison, learns of his fighting, the two have to balance her fear for him and saving the home for them and their two daughters. The high school learns of his moonlighting fights and suspends him without pay. Without any other option, Brendan is given an opportunity to get back into training, and enter into the same competition to win $5 million dollars.
siblings. They resemble us just enough to make all their differences
confusing, and no matter what we choose to make of this, we are cast in
relation to them our whole lives long. ~ Susan Scarf Merrell
That's the basic plot, but the complexity of Warrior is that there are really three stories going on and the director does a masterful job of developing all three of them.
Brenden and Tess are deeply in love and like an episode of Parenthood, they and their two daughters come face to face with some hard realities--Brenden has left a dangerous past behind and although he excels as a high school physics teacher, he must break his promise to Tess if they are to save their home and risk losing what they have together. Further complicating their home life is the appearance of Brenden's alcoholic father Paddy who is working on his 1000 days of sobriety and desperately wants to get back in the life of his boy and the grandchildren he has never seen.
Tommy Riordan also hates his father for what happened to his mother and the destruction of their home, but it is the specter of his own past that both propels him into the spotlight and deeper into himself. Never forgiving his older brother for staying with their father and leaving him and his mother to fend for himself gives an added intensity to the coming face off in the cage.
Paddy's role is one of alternate self-loathing to joyous hope, quest for the impossible and fragile Quixote who may crumble when push comes to mayhem in his battle for the redemption of his life.
Gavin weaves the three stories together and keeps the suspense building as secrets and incredible circumstances unveil in rapid fire action. Determination and raw destructive power come head to head with bonds too strong to break as three of the toughest men in the world unleash indomitable wills and the awsome power of familial love into a cage where only one can win.
Fathers will warm to the frailty and fidelity, wives can identify with the strength and commitment, sons will feel vindicated and victorious and everyone will enjoy the chance to cheer not only for a warrior, but for the triumph of a family's love.
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