Tom Hardy…………………..Tommy Conlon
Joel Edgerton.………………Brendan Conlon
Nick Nolte……………………Paddy Conlon
Producers……………………Greg O’Connor, Lisa Ellzey
Writer…………………………Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
You might be thinking “What? How exactly does a film about a bunch of guys fighting really make the audience think?” And to that, I would say, “Well, this film is about a lot more than just a ‘bunch of guys fighting.’ ” And when I say that “Warrior” was one of the best – if not the best – films of 2011, I absolutely mean it.
Honestly, I went into the film for the sole reason that Tom Hardy was in it. Since Hardy is going to be turning out as Bane in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” I wanted to get a lay of the land in terms of his acting, especially since one would think that Bane is similar to Mixed Martial Artists in more ways than one. 140 minutes later, I came out feeling absolutely emotionally drained, but in a good way; a very good way.
The film follows two brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) Conlon. Tommy returns to his hometown to enlist in a Mixed Martial Arts tournament with one of the biggest purses in history, and he joins up with his father (Nick Nolte) – a former alcoholic and Tommy’s former fighting coach – in order to get his help to train for the tournament. Paralleling Tommy’s story is Brendan’s, who is an ex-MMA fighter who can now barely support his wife and children with his job as a high school science teacher; Brendan sees this tournament at a chance for redemption and a means to provide for his family.
Past betrayals and recriminations keep the brothers estranged from each other and their father, with Tommy only using his father – Paddy Conlon – for training, and nothing more. One of the main reasons for this separation was the fact that Brendan – after having fallen in love – didn’t enlist in the army with Tommy. Matters were further complicated when Tommy left with his mother when the parents split; he watched her pass away in California to an illness that Brendan was never even told about, who had decided to stay with his father.
Once the tournament begins, we see the styles of Tommy and Brendan, with the former taking out each opponent with fast ferocious blows which result in a KOs, usually in the first round. Brendan, however, prefers to wear down his opponents until he seizes the opportune moment to get his opponent into an unbreakable lock, forcing the opponent to tap out. Already, the scene had been set for a fantastic final battle between the two brothers, between two completely different fighting styles. But when this final battle is reached, it is so much more than just an MMA fight.
One of the things that make the movie all that it is is its cast. Joel Edgerton is fantastic as the charming but oftentimes hapless high school teacher, who needs his one chance at redemption. The ever-amazing Nick Nolte was stunning as the brothers’ father, who was trying his utmost to redeem himself and get the family back together; he –along with Ton Hardy – participated in one of the most gut-wrenching scene of the film. Nevertheless, I think the standout performer was Tom Hardy, who played a role that was, though unemotional, strangely moving at the same time. He was mesmerizing as Tommy Conlon, and in my opinion, is probably the best role of his career so far.
The score was an additional factor that made this movie so brilliant. The National came up trumps with a subtle yet moving soundtrack that fit in very well with the film. The film’s best musical moment, however, was reached at the very end of the film, with The National’s ‘About Today’ playing during the dying of moments of the final clash, which resulted in one of the best finales I’ve seen this year.
The movie is set up in such a way that neither brother is supported, and the director – Gavin O-Connor – did this on purpose as to let the audience have its own interpretation, and derive its own meaning. Throughout the film, I never really knew who to support, and all of this culminated to a moment, right at the very end, where I just sat, shell-shocked. Though a winner had been found, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad, and yet I still felt a massive overflow of emotion that brought me to the brink of tears.
Maybe it is because I have a brother who I am very close to, I am partial to films about brothers, like “The Fighter,” and “Brothers.” But the fact remains that this movie is a lot deeper than just MMA fights, and can teach each and every one of us something different. Though it isn’t a tear-jerker as such, this film will nevertheless take you on an emotional rollercoaster, which ends with an absolutely amazing climax. So seriously, go watch ‘Warrior. ’