Mixed martial arts have pretty much stolen the fight-world spotlight from
boxing, which now feels so old-fashioned. So it was only a matter of time
before MMA also stole the idea of old-fashioned boxing film melodramas.
Except for the fact that the visuals are flashier and the sport is slightly
more violent, Warrior could have easily been made in the 1950s. Burt
Lancaster and Robert Mitchum (or perhaps Marlon Brando and James Dean) would
have been right at home as the long-separated brothers who are both trying
to pull themselves out of the gutter to become – against all odds – the
champion of the world, only to find they stand in each other’s way. They
could have pulled out someone like Noah Beery or Alan Hale to play the
estranged former alcoholic father-slash-trainer who is trying desperately to
reconnect with his sons. Then perhaps Sandra Dee or maybe Jean Shrimpton
could have been the beautiful, concerned, but ultimately supportive wife.
just instead of the sweet science, they are selling ultimate fighting.
Comparing Warrior to these older stories is not meant as a knock on
the new movie. Warrior takes on a tried and true genre of American
film and is able to mostly bring it into the YouTube generation. If the
film occasionally gets maudlin and a touch overly melodramatic, well that’s
what you have to expect from fight films.
Warrior even the
slightest thought with would collapse under the weight of its ridiculous
coincidences, contrivances and clichés – but damned if they don’t find a way
to make it all work. The
good thing is how they are able to take the cheesy, shopworn situations and
give them new life. If you give the storyline of
of the film’s strength comes from an extremely strong cast. Luckily they
caught on to two big up-and-comers in Hollywood at the brothers. (Warrior
was actually filmed before either actor’s star really
started to rise.) Tom Hardy follows up his breakout role in
Inception playing Tom, the hard-edged and bitter fighter and former war
hero who basically stumbles into the ring and quickly becomes a phenomenon
in Pittsburgh fight circles. Joel Edgerton (star of the
upcoming remake of The Thing) is Brendan, a settled-down and
content Philadelphia husband, father and teacher who is forced by financial
responsibilities (his house is about to be foreclosed on) back into the
Tommy is a puncher, an angry dynamo who pummels his opponents quickly.
Brendan’s fighting style is much more intellectual – he absorbs massive
beatings as he tries to tire his rival down and figure out a way to make a
always fine Jennifer Morrison also does top work as Brendan’s supportive
(but not clichéd “supportive”) wife.
Paddy, their newly sober father and former coach, trying desperately to make
reparations to his non-responsive sons, Nick Nolte gives his best
performance in many years. The character is in turns contrite, tortured and
furious – and Nolte pulls it all off with the modulated skill of a crafty
fact, despite the fact that it is constantly suggested (even by him) that
Nolte was a horrible father when they were young, the way his sons
completely block out his desperate attempts to atone almost seems cruel.
This is particularly notable when he pours his heart out to Tommy and gets
bile spit back at him, also when Paddy drives over to see Brendan and has
the door shut in his face. (Note to the screenwriter: Though they are in
the same state, it is a 6-7 hour drive to get from Pittsburgh to
Philadelphia. People don’t just take that trip on a whim without even
all leads up to a huge championship showdown in Atlantic City, which is
flashy and entertaining as the brothers negotiate the opponents – including
a Russian behemoth played by MMA star Kurt Angle – in the nearly inevitable
final showdown between the feuding brothers.
However, long before this climax, the audience realizes that it doesn’t
really matter who wins. In an odd way, by pummeling each other in front of
millions of people, perhaps these estranged brothers (and their father) can
finally start the healing.
Also, to promote the opening, a program called “We Are All Warriors” has
According to the
promotion, “This program was designed to highlight today's hero and it
brings together warriors of all walks of life - from civil activists
fighting for our rights to firefighters and police officers who fight for
our lives, to mothers and fathers fighting for their families. In reality,
whether it's for human rights, faith, honor or respect we are ALL fighting
battles every day. The best part is, by nominating a warrior or
self-nominating themselves, one featured warrior
has the chance to win a hometown screening of the film, Warrior, from
www.weareallwarriors.com and nominate the heroes and warriors in your
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 26, 2011.