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Warrior Review- Some Things are Worth Fighting For

Updated on September 19, 2011

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.

Henry 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.

Our 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.

©Winsome Publishing 2011, All rights reserved


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love MMA, but the acting and story was just so good.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Ha ha, "Oh my word." How delightfully retro to like such a cutting edge movie. You are my kind of person if this is one of your favorites. Thank you for stopping by. =: )

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh my word, one of my all time favorite movies!!!

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Thanks SB, it has a lot of heart. Worth the DVD rental if it isn't showing anymore. Thanks for coming by. =:)

    • successfulblogger profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

      Haven't seen it but great hub.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Thanks MTB, I think you will enjoy the interplay between the different philosophies of life giving way to family. Appreciate the visit and nice comment. =:)

    • marstoblog profile image


      7 years ago from Hitchin, England

      very well written hub and review, and I've been looking at this film since it came out. So from reading this I really want to see it now! thank you.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hello my friend, Hello--makes you want to go punch your brother doesn't it--just kidding, it does make you want to write that letter or make that call to your family though. Thank you so much for your always gracious comments. =:)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Well written and informative review. Thank you.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Ah it's the sprinkles that liven up the cake Angie, I might even put in a few examples of real-life family war stories. It is a pleasure to have you stop by and I appreciate the kind comment. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Amy, thank you and I usually don't see them either. As I have been reviewing a few movies that I like, especially the ones in my hub about "The Most Watched Movies...," I have been asking myself why I like them and now I am starting to watch from a different perspective. I do not do this in the movie, but some type of "writer's sub-program" is running beneath the surface and when I leave, it helps me put it together.

      I don't want to mislead anyone, this movie is not Shakespeare, but it is a powerful discourse on slugging it out for family.

      We've all come to that at some point in our family experience and drained, bruised and exhausted we find ourselves looking at each other, laughing and saying: "Yes we are a mess, but we are OUR mess."

      All of us see things from a different perspective, as your Asperger's example illustrates, and that is what you will find if you watch this movie. All of the main characters are fighting different ways from their perspective, but the goal is the same.

      Thank you again for a very thoughtful comment. =:)

    • anglnwu profile image


      7 years ago

      What a story and you've certainly done a great job of reviewing it. Love the quotes you sprinkle in your article--makes it more pertinent. Awesome.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Your review is excellent, Winsome. Although I have not seen it yet, you made me want to.

      Your intricate review is intriguing in the "nuances" that you catch. The relatively few times I have seen a movie at a theater, I am astounded at the depth in the nuances that so many see with so little effort. I usually leave a theater thinking about how profoundly, the majority of so many different people, are able to see and grasp the obscure ideas within a film.

      This past weekend I saw a PBS program about "aspergers syndrome". The afflicted have great difficulty relating to others. They have no boundaries. The subtle, non-verbal clues that most of us react to are never noticed by aspergers patients. I was fascinated when a neuro-scientist was able to watch "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" through the patients eyes. During some fiery dialect, the patient was completely entranced by a clock on the wall in the background. At the end of the movie, the scientist asked the young man what he thought about the film, and he said it was "pretty good". He liked the "pretty blond girl" and he described in great detail, objects he had focused on that held some meaning to him. He had no idea about the interaction of the characters. I was amazed that he liked to write and did so with emotion. Sorry, I digressed from your piece, but in a sense, I didn't, because I am reminded at how lucky the majority of us are, in not only the brilliance in arts creation, but our ability to understand, relate and enjoy what we see. Thank you, Winsome.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey RA, good to see you. I know you will enjoy this movie. It is always refreshing to see other people with problems who work through them with love and determination. It makes me feel I am not alone. =:)

    • RunAbstract profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Good review! Since I sometimes catch "Deadliest Warrior" on Netflix, and was really moved by "Cinderella Man" this movie may just tickle my fancy!



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