If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte
Running Time: 122 minutes
Genre: Action | Drama
I’m up for round two...
Sporting montage? Check! Buff leads? Check! Daddy issues? Oh yeah! ‘Warrior’ is a cauldron of cliché ready to boil into what should be one of the most generic films of the Summer. Even the uninspired title reeks laziness! On paper ‘Warrior’ ought to be laying in a bargain win at your nearest Wal-Mart. So what turned this sure-fire dud into one of the most spectacularly enjoyable movies of the year? Other than the six packs of course.
Two estranged brothers and Mixed Martial Arts fighters confront the forces that tore their family apart as they prepare to do battle in the ring in this drama from director Gavin O'Connor (Pride and Glory). Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) is an ex-Marine from Pittsburgh who's never quite shaken his troubled past. Upon learning that the purse in an upcoming MMA tournament is the largest in the league's history, Tommy recruits his father, Paddy (Nick Nolte), a former coach and recovering alcoholic, to whip him into shape in time for the competition. Meanwhile, as Tommy steadily ascends the ranks by defeating one powerful opponent after another, his brother, Brendan, struggles to provide for his family with his job as a public school teacher. A former MMA fighter with a devastating punch, Brendan begins to wonder if he, too, could have a shot at winning the coveted purse. In time, Brendan and Tommy both emerge as dark horse contenders in the competition, setting the two brothers on a brutal collision course. But Tommy and Brendan's biggest battle won't be fought in the ring -- it will be fought in their hearts and minds
‘Warrior’ is beyond formula – its downright paint by numbers. Call it a family drama, underdog story...whatever. This is a story you’ve seen thousands of times before. It’s great to see then, that while writer Anthony Tambakis has certainly aped age old tropes, he’s also improved a lot of them. ‘Warrior’ gets by despite itself, its impeccable easy to downright ignore the clichés in the name of a staggeringly heartfelt story with deep, personal touches that almost bring a tear to the eye. These are brilliantly drawn characters and the outcome of the fight is, for once, hard to call!
The direction is excellent with veteran Gavin O'Connor leading the charge with startling professionalism. It’s odd to see a director, clearly just go through the motions, but for it to not matter. The film is perfectly paced, never overstaying its welcome and being constantly interesting form the second the film starts to its pulsating, exciting finish!
Warrior will help cement Hardy's status as one of our most charismatic and muscular stars after the likes of Bronson and Inception, not forgetting his riveting turn as Ricky Tarr in Tinker, Tailor, while Edgerton does a fantastic job at brining new heart to the rather cliché underdog story. Its a case of both actors being just as brilliant as the other but the film never gives ether of them and unbalanced amount of screen time. The point here is not the triumph of some hypothetical good guy; the point is the relationship between our two leads. Their personality, charm and charisma make this an easily accomplished feat.
The film looks excellent, its beautifully choreographed and its hard not to feel every punch and kick with bone shattering effect. While most sporting films send me into a boredom coma, ‘Warrior’ blends stunning cinematography, great music and a fast editing style in order to create one of the most exhilarating pieces of cinema I’ve seen in a while.
Verdict: Generic, trite and little homoerotic! I kid, but ‘Warrior’ makes a virtue of its clichés and comes out triumphant. The characters, the emotion, the wit; but most of all the heart. ‘Warrior’ is a film that is far better than the sum of its parts. Delivering constant tension, brilliant dialogue and some top notch direction that all culminates in a K.O. of an ending! This is the pleasant surprise I’ve been waiting for, a sporting film that revels in the genre tropes and because of it, beats all other contenders. In short, I love this frickin movie!
+ Both leads deliver a knock out performance.
+ The story is honestly emotional and gut wrenching.
+ This is the film “The Fighter” ought to have been!
+ Brilliantly choreographed.
- A little too unoriginal to get perfect marks.