Movies – Warrior

9 Sep

All great sports have their own great movie. Baseball has Pride of the Yankees and The Natural. Football has Any Given Sunday. Hockey has Slapshot. Boxing has Raging Bull and Rocky. And now MMA has Warrior.

Warrior tells the parallel stories of estranged brothers Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy), as well as Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), the father both hate. Tommy shows up suddenly one night at his father’s home in Philadelphia, surly and drunk, with a score to settle. He asks his father to drink with him, then reacts badly when Paddy tells him he’s been sober for three years. Eventually, Tommy finds himself in a rundown gym, where he delivers a beatdown to an MMA champion during a sparring session. When video of the fight ends up on Youtube, Tommy becomes a sensation and convinces Paddy to train him to participate in an upcoming winner take all tournament. His lines are firm though: training only, no family stuff.

Meanwhile, Tommy’s brother Brendan, a former MMA fighter, is struggling to make ends meet as a high school teacher. With the family’s finances in shambles due to their youngest daughter’s heart surgery, Tommy tells his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) that he’s been moonlighting as a bouncer at a strip club, when he’s actually fighting MMA matches in the parking lot. When video of him fighting also appears on the internet, Brendan is suspended from his teaching job and he too decides to compete for the record-setting prize in the elite tournament.

Warrior is a movie with a lot of heart, and it wears it proudly on the sleeves — or, rather, faces — of its leads. Edgerton’s Brendan is the picture of a good man who can take all manner of beatings in the ring (or, rather, the octagon), but who is in danger of succumbing to the beating that life is giving him. As Tess, Morrison is resolute that her husband should keep his promise to her not to fight, but when push comes to shove (as it inevitably must in a story like this), her emotional turn to supporting her husband is totally convincing. Nolte’s Paddy is a man who wants desperately to make amends, but who is rebuffed at every turn by the sons who can only see the drunk he used to be. And Hardy portrays Tommy as a glowering menace, violence barely contained, as though he can beat his demons with a strong right hook. The performances are universally good, and Hardy’s bodes well for his turn next summer as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

But that’s then and this is now. And now, Warrior is one of the best choices at the multiplex. Some of the plot turns are a little too pat, and some moviegoers may be dissatisfied at what isn’t said (the exact cause of the rift between Paddy and Brendan is alluded to, but never explicitly decribed), but those are small matters in the grand scheme of things. Even with flaws, Warrior deserves to be mentioned along with the great sports movies of all time.

My score: 8 Cheeseburgers

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One Response to “Movies – Warrior”

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  1. Warrior Review - September 9, 2011

    […] Read more of this review from Charles of Fat Guys On.com HERE […]

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