Lately, I’ve been hearing a ton of buzz about Warrior. Much of that buzz is high praise for the film, starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. I saw the movie over a month ago and enjoyed it. But I don’t think it worthy of such high praise. While I found it entertaining and original, I still wasn’t blind to some of its problems.
Warrior follows the tale of two estranged brothers, Tommy (Hardy) and Brendan (Edgerton). Tommy just came back from being stationed in the Middle East. It’s instantly obvious that the man is scarred from what he had witnessed there. He shows up on his father’s doorstep drunk and needing a favor. Nick Nolte plays his father, Paddy Conlon, and invites him in to see what his son, who he hasn’t seen in many years, wants from him. Paddy used to coach his sons in wrestling when they were kids. But Paddy wasn’t a good man, he abused his wife, causing his wife and Tommy to leave him one day. Brendan chose to stay because he was in love and committed to his girlfriend, now wife, Tess. Tommy needs money so he asks Paddy to coach him back into shape in order to enter an upcoming Mixed Martial Arts tournament, but under the condition that Paddy only acts like a coach, not like a father.
Across town, Brendan is dealing with his own problems. He’s in a ton of debt and about to lose his home. He doesn’t want to uproot his wife and daughters, but his job as a high school science teacher isn’t paying the bills. He starts participating in small fighting tournaments to make some extra cash. However, once the school finds out, the principal has no choice but to suspend him without pay. Now, with no money coming in, Brendan decides to train and enter a big MMA tournament in hopes that he can win and save his family from foreclosure.
Brendan is immediately relatable. His struggles and demeanor are more common, and he’s a likable guy. The audience wants to see him win. I was rooting for him even before he started to fight. It takes a little longer to connect with Tommy. He’s quiet, tough and unfriendly. But they set his serious “I don’t a give shit” attitude to a comedic tone at times. When he punches some idiot out, it’s hilarious. Also, his attitude adds a tenser dynamic between his father and him.
Edgerton and Hardy are great actors. Edgerton plays Brendan with a little more heart, while Hardy plays Tommy with some mystery. Some of Hardy’s portrayal of Tommy was a little hokey and off-key. As I said, his comedic moments and one scene towards the end with Nolte are great, but sometimes I felt like the quiet, brash attitude was too much.
It’s hard not to compare this film to last year’s The Fighter. Both are stories of brother fighters; however, it’s different stories. I know it isn’t fair to compare the two. Yet, I’m not someone who has seen a lot of fighting movies or even watch the tournaments in real life. Warrior is tailored to be more of a feel-good family film. The Fighter is quite the opposite. Both are entertaining, but Warrior suffers from occasional over-dramatic acting and obvious plot holes. The biggest plot hole is regarding Tommy’s background in the military. It just didn’t seem to make sense.
Despite some of the film’s hiccups, I think the outpouring of love for Warrior comes from the fact that Hollywood is putting out an emotional, original (not based on a true story) drama and it’s actually good! Warrior is a good film, and it’s definitely my top pick for this weekend.
Warrior will release into theaters Friday, September 9th.