Thursday, August 11, 2011
Two rising stars in Tom Hardy (Tommy) and Joel Edgerton (Brendan) come together in a film that at first sounds similar to "The Fighter" (2010), "Fighting" (2009) or any number of other testosterone driven films following in the mold of "Rocky" (1976) or "Raging Bull" (1980). "Warrior" revolves around two brothers at odds with each other and their father (Nick Nolte) who have not been able to forgive each other for decisions made when they were teenagers and their parents separated. The favored son, Tommy, chose to follow his mother and take care of her when she took ill, while Brendan saw an opportunity to finally connect with his father who was an abusive alcoholic. The story picks up 15+ years later as Brendan has distanced himself from his father and started a family of his own only to reach a financial crisis, while Tommy is remains a mystery and is hiding from his own past. The two of them cross paths as they resort to prize fighting, one for the money, the other to prove himself a man.
The story is very predictable, but remains engaging as you find yourself cheering for the underdog, Brendan, who is fighting for his family; and sympathizing for the estranged father who is trying to correct the wrongs of his past with his two sons. The symbolism that the father, Paddy, shows with his audio tapes of Moby Dick resonate in that he never left Pittsburgh and accepts that as his punishment for the wrongs he has made. This is countered by Brendan who left everything behind and made a new life for himself in Philadelphia; and Tommy who followed his mother and then joined the Marines in search of brotherhood. One of the wrongs that Paddy attempts to correct is that he never gave Brendan the attention he needed, so it was interesting to see how his support during the tournament changed and the emotion on Nick Nolte's face during these quiet moments.
Even though the story is predictable, how it is told is refreshing to see as it is supported by a strong script that allows the film's dialogue, to explain the past hardships of the Conlon family, and the characters' motivations for retaining such hatred are revealed gradually. Recent films that have focused on fighting ignore the need for a script instead letting the fists do the talking, with the exception being "The Fighter".
In the final moments of the film a song is played that if you haven't heard it you will find deeply emotional. The rock band from Ohio, The National, wrote the song "About Today" in 2004, but it is perfect for this film (take a listen below). It is also the second film this year that one of their songs has been featured in with the other being an original for the film "Win Win".
The final rating for this film is a bit tricky for me as the film had some very strong points, but others that were a bit lacking. I feel that the acting and dialogue push through the weaknesses of the film and I will give it 5 Quacks. I can easily see Nick Nolte receiving a Supporting Actor nomination, and possibly the film even receiving a screenplay nomination.
(screening date 8/11/11, release date 9/9/11, location AMC Loews Georgetown)