Friday, September 9, 2011

Movie with Abe: Warrior

Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Released September 9, 2011

Movies about two brothers present enormous potential. Any family has its idiosyncrasies, and if someone deems two brothers, real or fictional, interesting enough to use as the basis for a film, it’s likely that their relationship is one for the ages. In “Warrior,” it’s the lack of a relationship that makes the dynamic between Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy) fascinating. As both train furiously and head towards an ultimate fighting competition, much is revealed about each of them and what made them the people they are in this above-average sports film that delivers in all areas.

The central plot of “Warrior” stems from patriarch Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), a former boxer who aggressively trained both his sons from an early age to become fighters. Paddy’s alcoholism has led to strained ties with both of his sons, and the sudden reappearance of absent son Tommy begins to indicate that he might be able to spend more time with one or both of his sons. The paths of his sons’ lives diverged considerably earlier on, as loner Tommy headed to the military and likeable Brendan became a physics teacher. Tommy’s motivation stems from anger, energy, drive, and purposelessness, while Brendan heads back to the ring simply because he needs the money.

“Warrior” sets up a major rivalry between its two leads that could threaten to spoil the film from the outset based merely on its premise. Yet that’s hardly the case here, since the film is full of intense fight scenes that manage to enthrall and surprise one after another without becoming dull or repetitive. Brendan and Tommy each have very different fighting styles, and the film provides so much background on each of them that it’s almost possible to predict, in a productive and enjoyable way, how they’ll aim to tackle their opponents in a fight. The fight scenes are crucial to the effectiveness of the film, and they’re among its strongest assets.

The performances also help to make “Warrior” what it is. Tom Hardy, recently seen in films such as “Bronson” and “Inception,” imbues Tommy with an inherent antisocialism, wherein he’s bred to fight and not to forge relationships with people. He makes for a fierce, fearful loose cannon. Brendan, on the other hand, was brought up the same way yet choose a different life for himself. Joel Edgerton, who appeared in 2010’s “Animal Kingdom,” gives Brendan a sadness and nervous determination that makes him the emotional core of the film. The movie’s more triumphant and exciting scenes are spectacularly-handled, managing to grip and captivate this particular reviewer whose interest in sports is practically nonexistent.


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