My Review of Warrior
Warrior is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. It follows two brothers: Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) who had a ‘troubled’ childhood (to say the least). Their lives have followed massively different paths but they both find themselves entering a MMA ‘grand prix’ tournament, where the prize is five million dollars. Each brother needs the money for different reasons and are prepared to do anything to win the prize.
First of all, the cast in this film is extremely good. Each actor-from Tom Hardy to Jennifer Morrison to Frank Grillo-has their time to show off and perform incredibly, to the best of their abilities. The shining star of the cast is probably Nick Nolte. He smashes this film. I haven’t actually seen a lot of Nick Nolte. The only film where I am aware I have been watching him is Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’. So my impression of him is not all that good. This film definitely and completely changes my view of Nolte as an actor. You start off resenting his character for the things we learn he has done in his past. But as the film progresses you feel more and more of a feeling of sympathy towards this man and that is all down to Nolte’s performance. Each of the characters have solid motivations, their stories are fully fleshed out. Especially Tom Hardy’s character who has an increasingly mysterious and interesting past. You can understand and appreciate why everyone does what they do.A lot of credit has to go to Hardy and Edgerton for how much work they must have put into their appearances in this film. You believe that these two guys are capable of being MMA fighters. I’m not sure how much of the fighting they did but even if they did very little they should get a lot of plaudits because the fights seem incredibly real.
That brings me on to the director of this film, Gavin O’Connor. This guy has got talent, he is a seriously good director. He makes a choice to make the film look very simple there isn’t anything that jumps out as amazingly stylistic. But like I said, the film just seems simple and the whole film flows over you smoothly. There is no point where I felt the need to check my phone or see what the time was. Along with the rest of the film, the fight scenes are directed superbly. They give the feeling that they are actually real almost as if you are watching coverage of a real sports event. This feeling is reflected throughout the entire film there is no point where I felt aware that I was actually watching a film, there is no cheesy scenes taking you out of the film, it never strays from the story it is trying to tell and the way that story it is told. The final fight scene is nothing short of perfection, my heart was racing and every single one of my hairs were stood on end throughout the whole scene right until the credits start to roll. The great thing about this particular scene is that the audience really has no idea who is actually going to win and within a specific audience there would probably be a section of them who are rooting for one of the fighters and the rest of them would be pulling for the other fighter.
The interesting thing about the fight scenes is that the film almost transcends the fights that are taking place. The fights represent each brothers' struggles and almost give off the idea that each brother is ‘fighting’ to be reunited with each other. When the brothers finally get to fight each other this represents them reconciling and hashing out their problems. The film becomes less about a MMA tournament and more about this relationship between these two brother. It becomes a film about family; coming together to reconcile; forgetting the past and the importance of all of those things.
I only have a few minor gripes with this film. One of them is that this film can become quite clichéd and predictable at certain points. The clichés are used to good effect, there was no time where I felt my need to roll my eyes at any scene. Towards the climax of the film this predictability fades away as I have already said. And ultimately the clichés used don’t ever take you out of the film or start to annoy you. I feel as if this film had quite a weak opening maybe 20 minutes. It seemed quite an odd way to kick off this film. I wouldn’t say that it was slow but it was definitely weaker than the rest of the film.
Although I felt that all the fights were realistic and believable. On reflection, there were maybe one or two instances where the audience is asked to suspend disbelief maybe a little too much. For example: where an ex-fighter turned physics teacher can beat a humongous Russian monster fighter. However, these moments are very rare and they only take a couple of seconds to get over. Although the ending of this film is incredible it does feel slightly abrupt. It was probably the right choice for what it symbolises but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions that were set up throughout the film. We might have needed a little montage telling where all the characters ended up after the tournament.
Finally, there were a couple of characters or groups of characters or story lines that in the end felt unnecessary and that they weren't given any kind of ending. There is no a sense of an arcwith a couple of the stories mainly to do with some students and the head teacher of the school where Brendan (Edgerton) worked. Also when talking about the sense of the absence of closure in some character’s cases, Nick Nolte’s character isn’t really given an ending. He is missing for the final half an hour right until the end and when he shows up he literally does nothing. Again this has significance in what it symbolises but I just feel like to do Nolte’s incredible performance justice he could have had more of an end to his arc.
I had heard a lot of good things about this film before I saw it and I’m happy to say that my expectations were met and exceeded. Warrior is an insanely good film that handles the sport of MMA extremely well. I’ve never watched a MMA fight before in my life and this film makes me want to do exactly that and makes me regret that I haven’t experienced it before. I think that is the biggest testament to how good this film is, that I can tell you. It can capture someone who does not care about the sport or really sport films for that matter and it drags you in and makes you care about everyone and everything in the film. If you haven’t seen this film, I would highly recommend checking it out!