Welcome to Retroactive Review – where I catch up on pieces of pop culture past that have slipped by me. After reviewing said pop culture, I shall rate it and judge whether it’s worth your time to rent on Netflix, Redbox or Netfloxbuster or whatever. Cheers!
Warrior is a 2011 film starring Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte. The film centers on brothers Brendan (Edgerton) and Tommy (Hardy) and their personal struggles to return to the UFC ring. In a world of pop culture that has seen numerous Rocky films and more recently films like The Wrestler and The Fighter in the past decade, Warrior still manages to feel fresh and captivating.
The film opens with an inebriated Tommy returning home to Pittsburgh after many years to find that his father Paddy (Nolte) is a recovering alcoholic and has found God. Tommy left with his mother years ago to escape from his father’s alcoholism and wants absolutely nothing to do with Paddy as a father; what he is looking for is a trainer. We then are introduced to Tommy’s older brother Brendan, who is a high school physics teacher and happily married with children. Due to medical bills for his daughter’s surgery, Brendan is facing foreclosure on his house and begins fighting in MMA fights on the side to make extra money. And after a video of him knocking out a professional fighter goes viral, Tommy becomes a UFC fan favorite and gains a huge following. Eventually both brothers decide to try their hand at a two-night tournament in Atlantic City called Sparta: “The Super Bowl of Mixed Martial Arts;” which has a $5 million cash prize. After the obligatory training montage (because every fighting movie needs a montage) the two make their way to Sparta. While Brendan’s motivations for fighting are obvious, Tommy’s story remains something of a mystery for most of the film. Eventually Brendan and Tommy come head to head both in and out of the ring; coming to blows physically with years of pent-up frustration. The fights are brutal and the outcome is something of a surprise.
Joel Edgerton hasn’t seen much in the way of Hollywood spotlight, barring playing a young Uncle Owen (Hey-oh Star Wars prequel reference!); but he definitely maintains the film’s earnest heart. Nick Nolte essentially plays himself; the broken old man trying to overcome his past demons. Late in the film Paddy succumbs to the bottle and is crying while screaming at a Moby Dick audio book. It’s a painful scene of a man who has lost everything because of his drinking; and hard to watch. Tom Hardy is a maniac in this movie and I absolutely loved it. If you saw The Dark Knight Rises and wanted more of Hardy (and 50% more of his face) look no further. Tommy is a character with a singular focus that Hardy narrows in on perfectly. Edgerton plays Brendan’s fighting style as more defensive and reactive, whereas Hardy takes Tommy on the warpath; he is unrelenting and unforgiving in every kick and every punch. Warrior is yet another movie about professional fighting, that’s true. But it’s an excellent portrayal of a broken family and a fighter fueled with emotional pain on par with Raging Bull.
Final Grade: ★★★★☆ 4/5 Stars
Rent It? YES