The Fighting Conlons
When Tommy (Tom Hardy) shows up at the door of his father's, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), things are as strained as they have always been between them. But knowing that there is bad blood Paddy doesn't question his son even when Tommy declares that he has going to fight again and wants his father to train him for the Sparta mixed martial arts competition. Tommy is not the only son Paddy has and there is also Brendan (Joel Edgerton) a former fighter who is now a teacher with a wife and family and so many bills that he ends up doing some car lot fighting to make some extra cash. Not only does it anger his wife but leads him to a suspension from teaching. In turn it leads to Brendan returning to fighting and entering Sparta leading to all the Conlon men back together even if tensions are high between all of them. But then things are not as clear cut as first seems.
Someone said to me that "Warrior" is the UFC version of "Rocky" they were well off the mark as "Warrior" has so much else going on that the fighting and the training is only half the movie at best, maybe in truth a third of the movie. Not that you would realise as director Gavin O'Connor has done a spectacular job of interweaving the fighting side of the movie with the other side in such an effective manner that you are never far from some action. And what spectacular action it is with some wonderful cage fighting which I swear could not have all been choreographed and draws you in to every punch, knee to the ribs and body slam.
That brings me to the casting as Tom Hardy is a brooding destroyer of as man as Tommy, a man darkened by what he saw overseas, bitter about his family and so aggressive that you would stay away from him even if he was having a good day. But it is again a physical performance from Hardy where he says more with his eyes and movements than he does with words. And that is perfect when it comes to Joel Edgerton as Brendan as he gets to bring the empathy out from his character and making him an unlikely hero although it has to be said that Edgerton looks just as impressive as Hardy does when it comes to the fighting scenes. And whilst there are entertaining performances from all the supporting cast such as Kevin Dunn bringing some comical relief there is Nick Nolte who as Paddy Conlon delivers a performance of his lifetime to take Paddy from being a cliche into a real character with as many demons as his sons.
That mention of demons really brings me to the other side of "Warrior" as we have the individual storylines and these are not simple storylines as there is something in almost every character's past which brings in to question the actions which they take. For example Brendan promised his wife that their children would never have a father who earned money beating up other people whilst a fight which left him hospitalized causes tension between his wife and his old friend and trainer. Then there is the mystery surrounding Tommy and his past which we discover bit by bit as the movie plays out and not just his time in the marines but also as in the families past which left to the Conlon men not speaking. Whilst it has to be said that you half expect that "Warrior" will see Tommy and Brendan end up fighting one another at some point it is well worked to deliver an emotional and powerful ending.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Warrior" belongs in to that group of fighting movies which heavily feature the "Rocky" movies it is in truth a whole lot more than just that. And interestingly Warrior" works in a different way to the "Rocky" movies as it less a movie which pumps you up but draws you in to the central characters of the Conlon's and their troubles.