“Warrior” is in many ways a movie that’s been seen too many times. However, there’s a certain appeal and emotional core that makes “Warrior” a vastly different, and more importantly, good, movie.
The film centers on Tommy (Tom Hardy, “Inception”) and Brendan Conlon, (Joel Edgerton, “Animal Kingdom,”) brothers on the opposite ends of the same fighting spectrum. Despite this, Hardy and Edgerton do not share a lot of screen time. This emphasizes just how different the lives they lead are, with Tommy as a brooding character, drowning himself in pills and alcohol and the only words coming from his mouth being largely negative and Brendan as a physics teacher looking to get back into the cage of MMA fighting to win money to save his house.
Both brothers have their reasons for fighting in the world of mixed martial arts. Tommy, despite his rocky exterior, is hiding a deep pain he never quite expresses and feels he needs to do right by a friend left with nothing. Brendan is trying to save his house and keep his family together. Both are noble and sympathetic in their intentions and the fact that the two share little screen time actually makes the film better. Without giving too much away, the little interaction they have makes the finale of the film that much more satisfying.
However, viewers may all ready know what the finale depicts. The trailers pretty much spoil it and even without them, it was inevitable that these two would meet in the ring. The trailers show this is going to be a bout between the two brothers, but the build-up is just as satisfying. To give the co-writer and director Gavin O’Connor’s (“Miracle”) credit, while the climax is predictable in hindsight, it was unpredictable while watching it. The ultimate victor probably can be seen coming from a mile away, but how it happens is very engaging.
While “Warrior’s” story is a bit cliched and its script is sometimes weak, it’s the performances that make it a great film. Hardy and Edgerton’s efforts to hide their British and Australian accents can sometimes result in amusement but for the most part they pull it off quite well. Hardy portrays his rage-filled character with expertise but it’s even more challening for Edgerton to portray such a likeable and easy-going man who also used to beat people up for a living. It’s like two opposite personalities within the same person and Edgerton does a great job of proving that maybe a calm and collected demeanor can even best animalistic nature in the cage. Brendan is the hero of the film, Tommy is the more engaging character and viewers will feel connected to both in different ways.
Equally notable is their father Paddy (Nick Nolte “Tropic Thunder.”) In a rare turn for the actor, Nolte depicts a heart-broken and desperate man trying to stay sober and reclaim both of his sons’ trust. If it’s one thing that Tommy and Brendan have in common, it’s their disrespect for their father. It’s because of this that Paddy may be the most sympathetic character in the entire film. Nolte may very well earn himself an Oscar nomination for this film.
“Warrior” can be corny, and it may seem deeply cliched. Rest assured, it’s still a great film. Solid performances and engaging fight sequences make up for the overused concept. It’s a heartfelt and inspiring tale that works in many different ways and it stands alone on its own.