Sunday, September 4, 2011

REVIEW: Warrior


Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton


September 9, 2011

Gavin O'Conner


2 hours 20 minutes



Breaking into the official fall season of film, I officially start it off (not including screenings of September/October films I've already seen) with the new MMA drama 'Warrior.'  'Warrior' is the latest boxing drama to come out onto the scene, so it would be very easy to compare this movie to 'The Fighter,' the other boxing drama that won a few Academy Awards earlier this year.  However comparing this movie to 'Fighter' would be a disgrace to the creators of this flick.  'Warrior' for starters is way better than 'The Fighter.'  The saving point of 'The Fighter' was the incredible acting of Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, as well as a well written, potty mouthed script.  Warrior on the other hand has superb acting, a gripping story, and a feeling that you're right there training and feeling the pain with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.  A lot of movies are coming out this fall, but 'Warrior' may be the best one coming out, and it's still early in the game.  There is only one word that can properly describe 'Warrior:' phenomenal.  Warrior is a phenomenal film that with undoubtedly go down as the boxing movie since the original 'Rocky.'  Actually despite being a Philly boy, I'm not much of a fan of 'Rocky.'  So for me, 'Warrior' is the single best boxing movie ever made, and one of the best movies of the entire year.  

Tommy Conlon, a man gone from his family's life for over a decade, and the youngest son of a 1000 day sober father returns home to Pittsburgh in order to do one thing: fight.  He has found out about a huge tournament taking place in Atlantic City, NJ, where the top 16 wrestlers in the world fight for a huge award sum of $5 million, as well as credit for being the toughest wrestler in the world.  Tommy wants his father to train him to win, which he happily does.  Brendan Conlon is a happily married man with two daughters, teaching science at a school in Philadelphia.  Low on money to pay for his house and family, Brendan decides to return to wrestling, being a former pro wrestler, and attempt to win the 5 million dollar prize so his family can have a better life.  But what happens when these two brothers, who are practically on two different worlds come back into eachother's lives' and are forced to fight against eachother rather than stick up for one another?

When most movie goers think of the name Tom Hardy, they think of the only other mainstream movie he was in: 'Inception.'  In that movie he is a sarcastic thief that helps Leonardo DiCaprio pull off the inception mission.  If you enjoyed his performance in that movie, wait until you get a load of Hardy's performance in this movie.  Hardy plays Tommy, the bulk looking brother who's fighting for honor and the money, as well as keeping some secrets from the past 14 years.  Many comic book geeks and Batman fans already know that Hardy is playing the super villain Bane in next year's 'The Dark Knight Rises,' and many of them were skeptic of how this sarcastic man from 'Inception' could pull off such a powerful role.  Even i was curious to see why Chris Nolan chose him to be Batman's new villain.  However after seeing this movie, I can see perfectly why Hardy is the right choice.  His bulkiness and tough/mysterious act in 'Warrior' shows exactly what actors can do if they gain many pounds worth of muscle and just act like an angry tough badass throughout.  This is the official start of a solid career for Hardy, and I could actually see him get some award recognition in the next few months.  However as good as Hardy was, the best role in the movie was Nick Nolte as the sober father of Tommy and Brendan.

I've only seen Nolte in one movie, and heard his voice in another, so I don't have much experience with any of Nolte's work, some of his work I believe garnered him some Oscar nominations.  I can now see from this movie how good of an actor he is when he isn't doing dumb comedies.  This may possibly the single best performance that I have seen by any actor this year.  Nolte's character is only trying to be in both of his son's lives, with one of them refusing to forgive his father from an incident several years previous.  There is a scene involving Nolte and a few bottles of alcohol that was the turning point of the film for me.  The emotions of the character in that particular scene were so chilling, and yet so heartbreaking at the same time.  I will be very surprised if Nolte doesn't get nominated for supporting actor at any major award ceremony this year.  You will be mesmerized by the performance of Hardy and Nolte, but don't think I forgot about Joel Edgerton. 

Edgerton in this movie reminded me a lot of Sam Worthington in 'Avatar' for what I believe are some strong reasons.  First off, Edgerton and Worthington's characters in each movie are fighting to save their families.  They are both involved with very moving family stories that help keep some heart in each film.  Second off, they are both Aussies, so their American accents sound very similar to one another.  When actors try to put on different accents, it's sometimes noticeable that they are trying to make their voice sound different, but it is sometimes good enough that it makes it less annoying than it would be if an American was trying to do an English accent, pulling it off poorly.  Third off, both actors have promising futures ahead of them, with Worthington ahead of the game with films like 'Clash of the Titans' and 'Terminator Salvation.'  Edgerton is actually in a Disney movie next year, entitled 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green,' which actually seems like it could be a solid movie come next year.  Joel Edgerton is very good in this movie, giving off the heart and soul that every movie needs.  If this movie were 'The Fighter,' Edgerton would be Mark Wahlberg, Hardy would be Christian Bale, and Nolte would be a combination of Amy Adams and Melissa Leo if they had a sex change.

In summary, Warrior is a superb sports drama that can appeal to every audience member, even if they have no desire of ever watching wrestling.  The acting is fantastic, the story is moving, and the wrestling is so unbelievable to watch that you can almost feel a wrestler get their shoulder dislocated or sucker punched in the gut.  For a movie being nearly 2 and a half hours, this one just keeps moving along, and the length isn't as noticeable as you would think it would be.  I understand that Lionsgate is doing everything they can to ensure that this movie will be financially successful, including having special sneak preview shows tonight (9/4) at many theaters across the country.  But honestly, I believe that they don't have to do this.  Just from the screenings they had for AMC Stubs members (including me) across the country last Wednesday (8/31) can ensure that this movie will be a huge hit.  I have yet to see 'Contagion' and 'Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star,' the other two new releases for this weekend, but I believe right now that this will be the best movie coming out this weekend.  This is a film that will have you standing up and cheering in your seat.  Yeah, it's one of those movies.  Plus, Peter Gunn (Shia LaBeouf's father in the 'Transformers' movies) is in this, so you know that you will laugh a few times.  If you guys get the chance to, go check out the sneak preview shows of this movie tonight, and comment below with a response.  I want to hear what everyone thought of this movie.  So who will be the champion for this coming weekend?  My early bet is Gavin O'Conner's undoubtedly sublime movie 'Warrior.'  No where is Adrian when you need her...

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