Believe me when I tell you a movie featuring a plot with an alcoholic
father seeking redemption for his past evils, a Marine with a
mysterious history, a guy fighting to save his house and pay his
daughter's medical bills, two brothers secretly on a collision course
in a winner-take-all tournament and more would even have the writers at
All My Children guffawing and saying, "PUH-lease!" (somewhere Susan
Lucci is rolling her eyes and commenting how this is unrealistic).
However, for all of the melodramatic twists and turns designed to
manipulate every emotion in your heart and soul, Warrior is
Tom Hardy stars as Tommy - a troubled former Marine who has returned
home with a new cause. With no hope, no prospects and no real skills,
Tommy has decided to do the one thing he knows how. He is going to
A $5 million winner-take-all mixed martial arts tournament is being
held in Atlantic City, and Tommy, who used to be a champion wrestler
(and is built like a brick house), has entered, with his father, Paddy
(Nick Nolte), training him, just like in the old days. However, this
all brings back the troubled history between them and Tommy's brother,
Brendan (Joel Edgerton), who also has entered the tournament to save
his house and pay for his daughter's medical expenses.
Who will win?
Can the family make up, or will this tear them further apart?
Hardy, Edgerton and Nolte add real meaning and emotion to those soap
opera plots, which is why even the most cynical of viewers is willing
to go on this emotional roller coaster ride of manipulation and
appreciate the outcome. Hardy amazingly makes you believe Tommy is an
animal who could never be satisfied in his pursuit to destroy every
opponent, but also brings an aspect of fear and pain as he remembers
the past relationship with Paddy, and trepidation about it all
happening again. It's tough to show the tender side of such a brutal,
aggressive beast, but Hardy has the ability to deliver with a subtlety
that isn't in the script.
Then, Edgerton is the perfect underdog. Of all of the characters in Warrior,
he's the one the audience can relate to. Trying to make a few extra
dollars to pay for a house that has lost its value, cover the mounting
medical bills and make ends meet as the economy squeezes this family,
we already are rooting for Brendan, but Edgerton makes it feel real.
Like Hardy, he doesn't deliver an over-the-top demonstrative
performance. He just lets the material breathe and flow through him.
Of course, that is what Nick Nolte has been doing for decades, and
might get an Oscar nomination for his performance in Warrior.
You see the pain on his face as Paddy regrets his past actions, and
tries to confront two sons unwilling to accept his apologies. Yet, he
also fills the character with a strength of conviction and will when
needed at the right moments.
However, Warrior is a very good movie mostly for the ability of
co-writer/director Gavin O'Connor and his crew to create this hard
scrabble, gritty world, both in look and through the writing. We see
though guys pushed to the edge. The environments lack any semblance of
glamour. Even the film on the screen looks beaten and battered, not
some pristine digital view. You feel like you are in the training
facilities, in the cage with the fighters and back stage with men in
those quiet, tense moments before they face the ultimate battle.
O'Connor creates the perfect atmosphere.
Eventually, the twists do get to be too much, but you are so invested
in the movie and the characters you won't want to walk out without
knowing how it ends.
Warrior is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense
mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material.