Warrior: Emotional & Physical Rollercoaster
Brendan (Edgerton) and Tommy (Hardy) are two estranged brothers and sons
to an abusive, alcoholic boxer father, Paddy (Nolte), who trained them both in
the art of fighting. They eventually give up their boxing aspirations, but Tommy wants
to return to the ring, and enlists his father’s help in training him for Sparta;
the biggest mixed martial arts tournament in the US. Brendan, now a high school
physics teacher, is forced into the contest as a way out of his financial
problems that threaten to cast his family out on the street.
Basically, you have three emotional arcs. The father Paddy, is now three years
sober and has found Jesus, but he has to face the fact that his previous alcoholic,
wife-assaulting ways have cost him his two kids, who can barely stand being in
the same room with him. He begs them for forgiveness yet is scorned, and the
sting comes from the fact that he knows this hatred is justified. Nolte plays him like a sad puppy starving for affection and it’s
his situation that packs the biggest emotional wallop. You really feel for him
when his kids treat him coldly even though you can’t blame them either.
Brendan has a lovely family and a stable job as a high school physics
teacher, yet he has severe financial problems and the bank is threatening to
take away his home. Edgerton gives an excellent portrayal of the soft-spoken family man
doing whatever it takes to keep a roof over their heads and his transformation
into a real fighter.
Tommy is bursting with rage at both his father and brother. While his
anger at his father is clear, he’s mad at Brendan for choosing to stay when both Tommy and their mother fled the house to escape the abuse.
Hardy completely inhabits his character. From his hunched over, slouchy gait to
the dark hoodies cast halfway down his face, he’s every bit the hermit. Fighting
is his only outlet because he sure as hell isn’t verbalizing anything.
The most annoying thing about films of this type is that the final
showdowns are generally a huge cop-out. Everything gets smoothed over for a
big, happy finale. And that was this reviewer’s favourite thing about this
film. While its ending was happy, it only came about after a whole load of
abuse. It was really hard-earned and epically emotional.
The fight scenes are all beautifully clear even in their brutality, keeping
the audience completely aware and appreciative of just how skilled and talented
these characters are. We fully understand exactly why they’re putting
themselves through this and we see the amount of gruelling training that they
have to go through. And while mixed martial arts may not be regarded as a real sport in the traditional
vein of football or basketball, in this film it’s accorded the same kind of
Warrior isn’t groundbreaking
in terms of story; but it is exhilarating to watch.