Movie Review: Warrior [2011] SPOILERS!

warrior-posterWarrior recently arrived in cinema with almost universal critical praise and what looked like another strong performance from Tom Hardy. Sometimes films that get such attention just don’t live up to the hype.

I really pleased to report that not only is the film worthy of the praise it also revives the career of one of Hollywood original wild men, Nick Nolte.

Gavin O’Connor’s powerful movie is home to several outstanding fights, however the climatic showdown between Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is as heartbreaking as it is adrenaline pumping.

Tom Hardy as Tommy cuts an imposing screen presence, he is a man of few words. When he does speak it’s almost as though he struggles to get the words out of his hulking frame. During the final fight when Tommy is injured but carries on, the look he gives Brendan was devastating. Gone was the soldier, the fighter and all the hatred, in its place was the look of a frightened boy looking to his big brother for help. After a brief but masterful turn in Tinker Tailor, Hardy is almost unrecognisable as Tommy but delivers possibly his most accomplished work to date.

Joel Edgerton as Brendan also impresses, the lengths he will go to in order to protect his family knows no bounds. You’re never quite sure which brother to cheer on, this isn’t a criticism at all but a testament to the script and the outstanding cast. Nolte is an actor I had written off, his well documented battles with addiction are captured in his face and are ingrained in his performance. Here he is cast perfectly as the brothers recovering alcoholic Father. A former solider himself, he has found peace and is now 1000 days sober but he strives to fix the damage he caused his sons.
When Tommy asks his Father to train him he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with him beyond that. Brendan also wants nothing to do with Paddy, he won’t even let him in the house to meet his grandchildren. He tries to convince his boys to give him another chance, but the cuts run too deep and the shabby washed up old man he is now longs to be forgiven.
However unlikely the set up might be, it still rings true. Both brothers have a worthy causes to fight for, it never seems too sentimental but there are a handful of moments that floored me like one of Tommy’s right hooks. The deep rooted problems in their family have caused years of pent up anger towards each other, this is all plain to see in the brutal final fight.

The closing minutes of the final bought is beautifully accompanied with The National’s ‘About Today’, a hurt and broken Tommy refuses to throw in the towel, the anger in his heart is gone and the frightened boy inside who needs his big brother is all that remains. Knocking Tommy to the ground Brendan pins his brother to the ground, telling him that he’s sorry and he still loves him, the two men leave the past in the ring with the chance to be brothers again.

Warrior has been unfairly overlooked on cinema, I urge you to check it out on the big screen while you can but there’s no excuse once it makes its way to DVD.

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