Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte
Script: Gavin O’Connor
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Length: 134 minutes
Warrior is a tale of a dysfunctional family in which two brothers choose to compete in a Mixed Martial Arts ‘winner takes all’ event. Tommy (Hardy), an ex-marine, is the younger brother or Brendan (Edgerton) a retired MMA fighter turned physics teacher. Both enter the event for different reasons, but it’s obvious that they will end up pitted against one another… one eager to fight, fiercely regardless of kinship, the other a reluctant combatant forced by pride to continue.
Yet there is perhaps a little too much of the generic underdog sports story here with an undeniably formulaic structure. It’s well acted, although Tom Hardy barely says a word throughout the film, who although billed as the main star doesn’t make much of an impact. In fact it’s the less well known Edgerton (and of course Nick Nolte as their estranged father) who must take the plaudits for elevating this film from the obscurity it might have faced had lesser actors been in the roles.
The MMA fight scenes are far less brutal than I would have expected, but also less well choreographed than I would have liked. Some of the bouts are laughable. But perhaps that is preferable to bone-crunching realism.
Ultimately the film is flawed, the fault lying somewhere in the scripting and the direction. Fault must therefore lie with writer/director Gavin O'Connor, who has just one other big film to his name – the disappointing Pride and Glory. He simply doesn’t impress. His writing is clichéd and hackneyed, his ability to direct his actors seems ineffectual and the emotion he puts into his writing feels forced.
It’s certainly not a total loss, the film is watchable, it’s just certainly not a classic. The performances are as powerful as can be achieved by actors hamstrung by the generic nature of the film but whilst their best efforts are genuinely appreciated, in the end Warrior is not a patch on The Fighter.