Warrior (2011)

Warrior (2011) – For some reason people just didn’t seem willing to give this one a shot. Maybe it’s because Mixed Martial Arts hasn’t quite penetrated the mainstream yet? It is pretty popular, but it seems like people who don’t watch it didn’t feel like going to see this movie. That’s a damn shame, because it’s a good one. I don’t like baseball (unless the Giants are winning the World Series, then as a fan of all things San Francisco I jump on that bandwagon) but I enjoy well-done movies like Moneyball. My mom hates boxing but loves Rocky. Movies are about people. Warrior has compelling characters and a good story. Also a lot of people punching and kicking each other but that’s hardly the only thing about the movie.

Tom Hardy plays Tommy Reardon, a former Marine, who pays a visit to his father Paddy (Nick Nolte). Paddy, who was a violent abusive drunk in Tommy’s youth, is now celebrating 1000 days of sobriety but that doesn’t seem to mean shit to Tommy who still hates the old man. He does however recognize that Paddy was a hell of a trainer and wants to be trained so he can compete in a huge MMA tournament for a $5 million prize. Paddy’s other son, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), is a high school physics teacher and former UFC fighter. While the boy’s mother and Tommy left Paddy to live in Seattle when they were kids, the then-teenaged Brendan stayed with Paddy mostly to be near his girlfriend and eventual wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison), causing a rift between the brothers. Brendan and Tess are a couple months away from foreclosure on their house and Brendan sees fights as a way to earn extra money. The school super-intendant doesn’t agree and the principal (Kevin Dunn) is reluctantly forced to suspend Brendan for the rest of the semester. Needing even more money now, Brendan also enters the tournament.

The cast is perfect across the board. Hardy plays a man with a giant-sized chip on his giant-sized shoulder. He lashes out at everyone and could be seen as kind of an asshole but in this movie there’s a lot more to him than that. Warrior doesn’t pigeonhole its characters. Edgerton is great as a man who had a horrible family life growing up and is now single-mindedly dedicated to giving his wife and daughters a better one. Nolte is also great as a man who has cleaned up his act, but is still haunted by the horrible things he did while in the grips of addiction. Morrison also does well in the mostly thankless role of the disapproving wife who eventually comes around that is always in every movie like this (when you marry a UFC fighter you think you’d be okay with this type of thing. I also liked Dunn’s mostly comic relief role as a man who, while reluctantly forced to reprimand Brendan, is shown enthusiastically rooting for him while watching every single fight. Noah Emmerich has a one-scene role as a bank employee whose utter lack of empathy with Brendan is infuriating (and timely). In a movie full of people getting hit in the face, why couldn’t he have been one of them? Anyway, Warrior is a damn good drama and even you aren’t into the whole mixed martial arts thing don’t let that scare you away. You’d be missing out.

One Response to “Warrior (2011)”
  1. rrenfrow says:

    Absolutely one of my favorite films of last year. Your review is spot on. Thanks for the post.

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