I’m a bit pressed for time this week. So for my review of Warrior, I won’t pull any punches, which is exactly what this film, starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Frank Grillo and Jennifer Morrison, does so well.
Warrior is one word that conjures a wide range of reflection within each of us. This is the point I would normally tangent into a semi-long discussion on viewpoint and historical context. Instead, I’ll bob and weave, avoiding the flurry of rights and left, and jump right into those that land squarely upon jaw or chest.
This story has numerous intriguing elements to it. You have the main story, Brandon fighting, literally, to do everything in his power to keep his family together. His daughter has a heart defect; his home is going into foreclosure, yet the three jobs he and his wife struggle through are not enough to prevent the inevitability of a structural divide. A radical decision must be made, to which Brendan reverts to his roots for answers.
The secondary story revolves around the looming character of Tommy. He’s an ex-marine, deserter actually, who carries an extreme amount of baggage with him. He acts like a lost puppy at times, moving about without a clear-cut plan in place. Yet, as we find out, everything he does is calculated, including a few gambles. He is lost, he is seeking answers, I guess in a way he’s looking for a combination of confession and salvation. Sole survivor of a wartime raid, Tommy decides to desert his role as a soldier. The loss of his best friend, brother as he calls him, was too much for him to bear. He made a promise to his friend, to take care of his wife, which at the time he had no idea how he would see it through. Despite the trauma he is able to save another unit from certain doom, as he pulls off a Herculean feat of strength and will. His character is seen as a wandering sort when first appearing on screen. He knows not what direction to travel, so despite his better judgment, perhaps because of it, he reverts to his roots, returning home.
The third storyline deals with the father, a one-time drunk and abusive man. Paddy Conlan lost his family and perhaps a part of his soul. He found faith and became sober. The reappearance of his son Tommy was his second chance and although a bitter resistance, fueled by hurt, he’s able to endure the mental onslaught of a past reminded and a seemingly impossible chance for redemption.
At its deepest level, Warrior is about the fight for family, a fight that culminates with a bloodied battle between two brothers.
Before seeing the film I was a bit skeptical as the promos hyped up the biggest shock, that two brothers would be fighting against each other in the main event. Even as I was watching the film build up the character of Koba, played by real life wrestler Kurt Angle, I couldn’t help think what a waste of time. Why did the writers build up a superhuman-like villain, when everyone knows he won’t be the one who the hero(s) must slay at the end?
Yet everything came together very nicely. As the two brothers were fighting, as tears mixed with blood, the audience could see the years of bitter resentment and pent up hatred come to a boil. The viewer could see how with each crushing blow and sweeping kick a little bit of that edge then became all the more unstable. Finally we leave with the sense that at least one part of the family unit has become repaired.
And for the father, played by Nick Nolte, you can tell that, in his last appearance, with tear trailing down his cheek, that while still on the outskirts of where he wanted to be, he was elated by the scene of brother defending brother, as the cameras all attempted to gain close-up shots of the battered two.
This is a film in the mold of those underdog seeking redemption movies, where overcoming physical tests parallel those that are at war inside. If you enjoy MMA you’ll love some of the contests detailed. But this film is much more than a simple Boxing film, it’s everything I mentioned above and perhaps a bit more I’ll leave for you to discover on your own.
One last point to make, I really like the fact that outside of Nolte, who really is a secondary character, all the leads in this film are relative unknowns in their own right, which fits in perfectly with the overall story that’s been told, especially Tommy’s. It’s an interesting film to watch to say the least. One that definitely has a clear-cut main storyline, yet the underlying stories are built up enough to make us forget exactly as to which story is the one in where the main plot lays.
Overall I’m sure you’ll find many movies to choose over Warrior. But in what I consider a relatively slow period of the year, which should be ending rather soon, that Warrior could easily be something you’d want to see. Perhaps even being one, that after seeing, you’ll be very happy that you allotted the time to see. I know, as someone who was on the fence, as to whether to see this or not, I’m glad I gave this film a chance.