Time: 140 Minutes
Tom Hardy as Tommy Riordan Conlon
Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon
Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon
Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon
Frank Grillo as Frank Campana
Director: Gavin O’Connor
The youngest son (Tom Hardy) of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father (Nick Nolte) for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother (Joel Edgerton).
I saw Warrior for the first time a while ago, I remembered the general plot, and I remember liking it but that’s it. I’ve been meaning to it rewatch it for some time, and having watched a lot of other Tom Hardy movies recently, it was the best time for me to watch it again. I’m glad I did, I like it even more than I did the first time, an emotional drama that you can easily get invested in.
Despite MMA playing a key part of the movie, at its core, Warrior is a drama about family. Yes, there’s a number of familiar sporting tropes, you get the montages, you get some moments that could be argued as a little cheesy, but if you’re as invested in the story and characters as I was, that won’t even matter. The only sports movie trope that it really could’ve gone without was the typical big unstoppable Russian opponent, who’s also literally called Koba. On top of his existence in the story being kind of silly and out of place, he ultimately doesn’t have that much of a significant part in the story, and could’ve been swapped out with any powerful fighter and avoided the rather dated trope. The plot isn’t exactly unpredictable, especially if you’ve seen other stories like this, and even other sports movies, but it is handled so well. Warrior from the beginning establishes itself as a sincere and honest movie with its characters clearly being the main focus. Despite the familiarity of the story, it does feel real, and the well written script played a part in that too. It’s 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but I was quite into the story and it didn’t even feel that long to be honest.
The acting is one of the best parts of the movie. The main two leads are Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, and both are really great in their roles. They are convincing as brothers, and they were also convincing in the fighting scenes. Hardy gives a typically great performance as this damaged character with issues, conveying his single mindedness in and out of the ring. Edgerton gives some of his best work as his character, very genuine, authentic, and easy to root for. It’s not just those two however, Nick Nolte gives an intensely emotional performance that has rightfully been receiving acclaim. This has to be the best performance I’ve seen from Nolte, here playing the father of both Hardy and Edgerton’s characters, who was a former alcoholic and had a lot of regrets. The dynamic between each of the three actors are strong and believable, and there’s a lot of tension between them. Also good in supporting roles is Jennifer Morrison as Edgerton’s wife, and Frank Grillo as Edgerton’s coach.
Gavin O’Connor directed this movie very well, handling both the drama and fighting aspects of the film strongly. Despite them not being the main focus or even the highlights of the film, O’Connor does really well to get the audience really engaged and invested in the fight scenes, even those who aren’t really interested in MMA. The fights also feel very believable, and you really feel the impact of every blow.
Warrior is a really good movie, emotional, entertaining, and all around great, far better than it appears to be at first. You don’t have to be a fan of MMA or other fighting sports to get into the movie, while those fight scenes are very strong, the rest of the movie works as a drama first and foremost, and is just so excellently written, directed and overall well made that there’s something for everyone in it. I thought it was great, and even if you don’t think you’ll like it, I definitely think you should give it a chance when you can.