Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writers: Gavin O'Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo
REVIEW: Gavin O'Connor, director of Miracle and Pride and Glory, takes a script he wrote with Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman for Warrior. A drama based on two brothers, their ex-boxer father and a quest for one brother to proof his worth and the other to provide for his family. Is it the upbringing of violence that drives these men to make the decisions they do - or something else?
Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton from Kinky Boot and the upcoming The Thing prequel), the oldest son of ex-boxer Paddy (Nick Nolte), struggles to keep his family afloat on his salary during the depressed economy. Youngest son and ex-Marine Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy from Inception and the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises) returns home a reluctant hero and looks to train for a Mixed Martial Arts tournament with a huge pay day. Returning to the sport as an amateur to make extra money, Brendan finds himself on a collision course to face his brother in the tournament and deal with all of the bad blood between his father and brother.
A gripping, exhilarating and powerful sports drama, Warrior shows the extent a man will go to protect and provide for his family, and well as the possible physical and emotional implications of a broken, dysfunctional upbringing. Can Paddy gain forgiveness from his sons for the drunken abuse he dished out on his wife and sons? Can Tommy let go the hatred for Brendan and his father for the deep-seated feelings of abandonment and being forced to become a man too soon to protect his now-deceased mother? Can Brendan gain the respect of his brother? Although Warrior is being touted as a uplifting sports drama, the film delves deep into the psyche of a broken, near-irreparable family whose only only emotional release seems to come from violence and brutal physical contact.
The cast is superb. Nick Nolte, with his piercing eyes, worn face and gravelly voice intact, embodies an old weathered broken man haunted by his past sins looking to gain even a small measure of forgiveness from his sons. Almost 1,000 days sober when the movie begins, Paddy has turned to listening to Moby Dick on audio book - a direct parallel of a man chasing something that may be at once both unattainable and ultimately the source of his own destruction. Tom Hardy, as Tommy, bulked up to the Nth degree, casts a unnerving and unflinching shadow against his father and brother, driven to the tournament to atone for his own past sins. Every scene between him and the men in his family is an instruction on conveying a bottled-up rage. Joel Edgerton, as Brendan, remains stoic, knowing that fighting is the only way to ensure that his family will not be forced into foreclosure due to bank recommended over-extension and an upside-down mortgage.
Warrior is akin to the original Rocky in that the film is as much about the drama between people as it is about the sport of fighting. Dramatic, empowering, brutal and, at times, funny, Warrior is an example of how a film extends past what its commercials claims it to be. A brutal, hard look at a family's dysfunction, Warrior shows how the healing of old deep jagged wounds can only be achieved by the opening up of new ones.WORTH: Matinee or DVD