By Gary Murray


Starring Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison and Nick Nolte


Written by Gavin O’Connor and Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman


Directed by Gavin O’Connor


Running time 140 min


MPAA Rating PG-13


Selig Film Rating Matinee


The boxing film, like boxing itself, is past its heyday.  What was once the big sports event was also the big cinematic event.  Today, most fight fans go either in the pro wrestling soap opera or mixed martial arts competitions.  The use of both hands and feet in fighting had found a new group of fans.  In the new film Warrior, Gavin O’Connor takes the newest sport sensation and covers it with some of the schmaltziest plot devices used in years.


This film is has just about every cliché ever thought of for a fighting film.  It is the story of two estranged brothers (Cliché #1) with an alcoholic father (Cliché #2) who favored one son over the other (Cliché #3).  The younger brother went with Mom and the older stayed with Dad.  The younger brother is a veteran (Cliché #4) with a questionable past and some heroic deeds to his credit (Cliché #5 & Cliché #6).  The other brother is a teacher has a sick daughter (Cliché #7) and a mortgage past due.  He fights to get enough money to save his family (Cliché #8) even though the wife doesn’t want him in the ring (Cliché #9).  The two end up fighting one another for the big payday (Cliché #10).  I could keep going, but you get the idea. 


The thing is—it works in spades. 


Nick Nolte is Paddy Conlon our alcoholic dad who is gone almost three years sober.  Even though he is doing whatever he can to win the love of his sons, it may be too little too late.  As he delves in the classics on audio book, he struggles with staying on the straight and narrow.  With his gruff low-tone growl, he gives the part a much bigger reading than what is on the page. 


The film is focused on our two leads.  Tom Hardy is younger brother Tommy, a guy with a two ton chip on his shoulders.  He broods over every aspect of his life, taking out his frustrations on the world in the ring.  He’s a one punch kind of fighter, giving it all with every blow.  He nails his opponent and doesn’t stop and wait for the laurels, he just gets out of the arena. 


While Tom Hardy sulks through his reading while Joel Edgerton gives it the ‘gee whiz’ open-eyed rendering.  He is the reluctant fighter, a milquetoast teacher with a stunning uppercut.  He fights because he has to win money; there is no burning desire to destroy.  He is the animal backed in the corner, not the predator out for a kill.


Even though the film is runs two and a half hours, it never drags.  There are so many plot points with so many different characters; the film has a epic feel but not an overwhelming tone.  Director Gavin O’Connor slowly builds up to his third act, introducing each character with enough pace to feel as if each story is given its proper due. 


Warrior is loads of coincidence almost to the point of silliness yet is still so much fun to experience.  It works on just about every level and could be a contender at the end of the year.   It is everything that is old Hollywood filmmaking thrust into the 21st century.





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