I still remember seeing the trailer for Warrior on a preview attached to another film i was watching. I remember wanting to go simply because Tom Hardy was in it. I could not careless for the fact that it was somekind of violent, mixed martial art films. I remember none of my friends wanted to go because they took one look at the poster and thought it would be brutal, muscle films. And surprise, surprise: ‘never judge a film from its poster’.
Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy), is an ex-Marine who went AWOL from his duty in the sandbox, he return home and reunite with his estranged father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) a recovering alcoholic, a former coach, and a part of his haunting past, to train him for an upcoming Mixed Martial Arts tournament. Little did he know, it brought him to his brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) who aimed for the title prize for the sake of his family when he was unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher. With the ghost of their past closing on their heels, the two brothers must compete in a ‘winner takes all’ tournament for their own respective objectives.
Tommy is a brutal force to be reckon with taking down his enemy like a bulldozer taking down each opponent to their imminent defeat within the first few minutes of their battle (“Tommy’s walking away from the cage like he’s leaving a crime scene”, one of the commentator noted). His silent and mysterious presence on the ring stirs curiosity among fans, so much for anonymity. Almost contrary to his little brother, Brendan is a family man, seemingly warm, likable, and popular amongst his student. He joined the competition as the underdog and the fear of loosing the home for his kids and wife become his driving force. Although you got enough background story to understand the love/hate relationships between these father/sons/brothers, it is still vague enough not to overwhelmed the current drama. There are some weakness in the script, especially about Tommy military past that seemed a little off, but it does not really matter when it came to the end. This film is not groundbreaking at any level, but it manage to invite you in and engage you in its turmoil. This is one of those rare films, perhaps like what i found in Rush (2013), where at the very end you just don’t know who to side for because you sympathize with both character almost equally.
While the fight is beautifully choreographed and captured, the strength of Warrior lies in the strength of the actors. The three actors are broken heroes in their own respect, their obstacles are dramatized but their performance are very believable and manage to inject raw emotions into each of their character that i just can not hate any of these guys. There’s almost no antagonist/protagonist role, because of the grayness of each of them, and that’s what made the film even more captivating for me. Nick Nolte stellar performance as the father, Paddy Conlon, got an Oscar nod in the supporting actor category. A reform alcoholic that seeks for nothing but another chance to reconnect with his sons, the moment where he relapse was simply one of the most heartbreaking and raw scene in the film (even recalling it brought tears to my eyes). Although the climatic scene between the two brothers was insanely good, Tom Hardy steal the spotlight from Edgerton by the skin of his teeth in this one. This was one of Hardy’s films that made me believe the guy has what it take to be a great actor, and he did well as the damaged and broken hero, and when he crumbled and give in both literally and figuratively, it just showcase the strength of his acting.
Warrior might seemed like a physical film, but the punches it shown are more emotional than literal. It gives a beautiful parallel between their physical to their emotional struggle, powered by gripping performances especially by the three actors. This is one of my personal favorite films, if you haven’t seen it already i hope you’ll be intrigued to give it a try.
GENRE Sports, Drama
DIRECTOR Gavin O’Connor | PRODUCER Gavin O’Connor, Greg O’Connor | WRITER Gavin O’Connor, Cliff Dorfman, Anthony Tambakis | MUSIC Mark Isham | CINEMATOGRAPHER Masanobu Takayanagi | EDITOR Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, Aaron Marshall | STUDIO Mimran Schur Pictures, Filmtribe, Solaris Entertainment| DISTRIBUTOR Lionsgate | COUNTRY United States | BUDGET $25 million | RUNNING TIME 140 minutes | RATING PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material | RELEASE September 9, 2011 (US)
STARRING Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo
This post is a part of 2013 October’s MovieCube.