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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 09.03.11] movie review news action drama

Year: 2011
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writers: Gavin O'Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The sports drama is so formulaic, you can lay it out as an essay outline with blank spaces for all of the pertinent information. It always involves an individual(s) or team, a set of obstacles of either a personal or professional nature though of late the trend has seen a combination of both, before eventually overcoming (though sometimes not) the odds and succeeding. In the case of Gavin O'Connor's Warrior, we have two estranged brothers who come face to face in the biggest fight of their lives.

Brendan (Animal Kingdom's Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Inception's Tom Hardy) are estranged brothers. Brendan is a UFC fighter turned high school teacher about to lose his house while Tommy simply appears – presumably from somewhere but that somewhere is a mystery for the first half of Warrior. Determined to keep his house, Brendan goes out looking for a second job, ends up in a parking lot fight which pockets him $200 and in turn gets him suspended from work. Needing cash and having the time, he decides to start training and fighting small time bouts which pay pretty well. Tommy returns home to a now sober father (Nick Nolte) and keeps himself busy by training at his old gym. Through a series of events, one which unfolds in particularly fantastic style, the two men end up in a MMA event with some of the other best fighters in the world – all vying for the five million dollar prize.

To be quite honest, the details of Warrior are interesting but the sort of drama we've seen before. It's no different from last year's The Fighter or Mickey Rourke's turn in The Wrestler and like those features, there's a star making performance here as well. The film tries to keep the stories of the brothers pretty balanced but seems to spend more time developing Brendan's story more thoroughly and Edgerton delivers another great performance but it's Hardy who has, until now, appeared in supporting roles, who emerges as a great talent. His character's story is much like the character himself: a bit of a mystery. We mostly see him as an unhappy, violent sort but there are a couple of beautiful scenes in which Hardy really puts his heart on his sleeve and the results are spectacular. One in particular in which he consoles his father after he's fallen off the wagon is, alone, star making.

The acting is all fine and good but Warrior other great success is O'Connor's talent in capturing the fight sequences. I've never been much of an MMA fan but watching the short bouts, sometimes not even in full, was exhilarating and on at least one occasion, I found myself cheering at the screen. Yes, it's intense and much like the real-deal: a real heart pounder. As for the final fight... the closing ten minutes are golden.

I was disappointed by a few scenes which should have carried more emotional depth (Tommy and Brendan's first encounter since the two were teens, Brendan's students organizing a viewing party) that fizzled instead but overall Warrior packs a mean punch of heartfelt entertainment accompanied by brilliant performance from the Hardy who is both feral and heartbreakingly kind in equal parts. Hopefully the MMA angle will get people into theatres – the film really is deserving of a wide audience, but either way, Hardy, who is the far and away champion of this bout, is on his way to the top and at this rate, he's going to be arriving before the bell rings.

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Luis (10 years ago) Reply

This movie was terrible! I saw it in a screening of some kind, free tix. Tom Hardy is great, loved him in Bronson and he was very memorable in Inception considering his short screen time. But this movie was not good. I thought the fight scenes were incomprehensible and the cheese factor was huge, Pump Up the Volume levels of cheese. If Brendan had a brain, which he should because he teaches H.S. physics, he would have just filed for bankruptcy. And come on, physics? Maybe a general science teacher or basic math, but physics? Please. Brendans whole story is contrived and uninteresting. If the movie had focused more on Tommy and his dad it might've been better.


Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

Just so you know...former UFC champ Rich Franklin has a Master's Degree and taught high school math and can have a brain and still be a fighter


G (10 years ago) Reply

You do realize that him not wanting to file for bankruptcy had nothing to do with brains and everything to do with pride right? Coming from a hard upbringing where he was always second fiddle, he refused to go backwards. You do what you have to in order to move forwards. People are so quick to just file bankruptcy, maybe if they had a little more personal pride and drive our finances as a country wouldn't be so far in the crapper, but no, it's so hard I could work multiple jobs, nah I will just claim bankruptcy. That's cowardice.


Stephen R. Tod (10 years ago) Reply

Credibility was damaged by so many cut-away camera shifts at pivotal fight moments. The Moby Dick motif could have worked with sufficient exposition or foreshadowing. Still, the movie is very good and worth seeing. In general, the acting, writing and directing are excellent.

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