First off, I need to address two “Do Nots” in regards to this film:
-Do not think of this film as just “that UFC or MMA movie.”
-Do not think of this film as just another Rocky, Cinderella Man, or The Fighter prior to seeing this movie. To do so can possibly ruin your experience and enjoyment by settling into the mode of “Oh, I’ve seen this before…blah, blah, blah!” I implore you to look at this film as a movie that you haven’t seen before (because if it’s your first time checking it out, then that would be a true statement) and treat it as such. That is, actually, how you should view all movies prior to watching them for the first time.
That being said, Warrior, starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, is so much more than just a mere athletic fighting film. Sure, comparisons of certain elements can be made with the aforementioned films, but where Rocky is the story of one man fighting against insurmountable odds, and The Fighter is the story of two men doing the same, Warrior tells the tale of three hardened men fighting fronts on all sides to overcome and succeed. It is a story told effectively, emotionally, and emphatically.
Gavin O’Connor (2004′s Miracle), who both wrote and directed Warrior, excites the audiences with hope, anticipation, and adrenaline through every scene of the movie through his choice of an excellent cast, location, script, and more. Many of the scenes, especially the ones in the cage, will have you sitting on the edge of your seat watching blow after blow and kick after kick. But, as I said, that’s not all that Warrior is about.
Three warriors are present in this film.
- Student of the School of Hard Knocks, Tommy (Hardy), the former wartime marine who returns “home” with no where else to go, turns to what he knows best…fighting…in order to quench the demons within and without that plague him. But in order to do so, he must receive training from an all too familiar, yet unwanted coach, his father Mr. Conlon.
- Mr. Conlon (Nolte), as the recovering former abusive alcoholic father, having been estranged from his family for several years now, fights to gain acceptance, redemption, forgiveness, and the family he never actually had. Tommy is actually the younger of his two sons, and his return prompts the desire to fight for what’s right and against all he did wrong as a father and husband.
- Brendan Conlon (Edgerton). Highschool physics teacher, happily married and father of two beautiful daughters who do not know their grandfather, Brendan faces losing all that he has fought for with an impending bank foreclosure. As he fights to stay afloat the opportunity of returning to a profession of fighting for money presents the possibility for the ultimate fix. But at the cost of the fears of a wife fearful for his health and the risk of losing it all.
The dynamics with all three warriors in this film hit the mark on so many levels. Their performances are what keep the attention both in and out of the fighting cage. Yes, the fight scenes are amazing and pounding with excitement! But I literally sat on the edge of my seat, eyes glued to the screen, for every second of the film. There is just as much gripping emotion outside of the ring as inside it. Nolte gives, arguably, his best performance EVER as the fighting recovering AA participant! (Dare I venture to say that I would win that argument?) And, Tom Hardy, whew! Let’s just say that I am even MORE excited for The Dark Knight Rises. He can fight both physically and verbally!
You may think you know how the film will end. You may think you’ve seen it before. And, if you go see the movie with those thoughts in mind, then 1- you will be disappointed, and, 2- you will be surprised. I guarantee you haven’t seen it before. You’ve seen parts of it in other films, but Warrior stands on it’s own as a highly credible contender for this upcoming award season. Go see it for one of the BEST movies of 2011 year to date. While I wish to give this film a perfect score, a couple of aspects of the film prevent it from receiving such a score (a few unexplained/underdeveloped happenings, etc.).
*I must congratulate composer Mark Isham on a great score for this film. Having caught my attention in the trailer, his full score did nothing but contribute appropriately to the story and add greatly to the overall experience. For more of Isham’s work, watch Miracle, Crash, Impostor, The Conspirator, Invincible, Save the Last Dance, October Sky…okay, you get the point! He was perfect for Warrior‘s soundtrack too!
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!
-TheSp1der’s Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars for “Warrior”
up next: Time to Vote Tuesday!