Directed By: Gavin O'Connor
Runtime: 140 minutes
Let me start out by saying that I am not a fan of Mixed Martial Arts and I had my reservations before watching this film. I am so glad that I decided against my initial prejudice and gave it a try - I was not disappointed.
"Warrior" is a film centered on a story about a badly broken family and their struggle to overcome their personal obstacles. Brendan Conlon and Tommy Conlon, played by Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, grew up in a household with an abusive alcoholic father, Paddy Conlon, played by Nick Nolte. Getting out of the situation, Brendan and Tommy took separate paths - Brendan ran off with his high school sweetheart while Tommy ran away with his mother, who became terminally ill some time later.
The film begins in the cold aftermath of life in the boys' adulthood. Paddy is no longer an alcoholic. He is 1,000 days sober and will spend the rest of his life asking forgiveness for his sins. Older brother Brendan is a high school physics teacher with a wife and two daughters. Younger brother Tommy takes pills and appears to be a free rider, having no permanent address or place in this world.
Each character in this film sets after their own personal sense of retribution. Paddy was a deadbeat father who singlehandedly tore apart the best thing in his life - his family. Now he is faced with putting the broken pieces back together, if that's even possible. Brendan was always the underdog in his father's eyes, not the champion like Tommy. After supporting his family in a way that his father never could, Brendan is now faced with a bank foreclosure on his home and he'd do anything to not let that happen. After Tommy's military unit was erased by friendly fire, Tommy went AWOL, promising to do right by his military comrade's widow.
Each of these hardships is brought together by one singular competition - the Spartan Mixed Martial Arts tournament, boasting a 5 million dollar purse. I will not reveal anything more about the tournament, for it is best viewed from a non-biased audience. I will say that the fighting was well-choreographed and just about as realistic as it gets, although I have no desire to personally verify this statement. Edgerton plays a great underdog and a convincing role of the shamed older brother, while Hardy delivers an excellent performance of a man so damaged and fueled by hate, I imagine that I would be scared to death fighting with him in the ring, even if it was just acting!
This film goes through a range of emotions and I found myself taking turns sympathizing or getting angry with one character to the next. It is much easier to forgive than it is to forget, a lesson we come to learn well after watching this film.