Wednesday, September 21, 2011

#203: Warrior

Warrior is a 2011 action film that stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte in leading roles. The movie is about these three characters, Tommy (Hardy) and Brendon (Edgerton) who are the sons of an ex-armyman and fight coach Paddy (Nick Nolte).

Warrior begins on a sombre note with a bitter conversation between Tommy, who has just returned after serving in Iraq and Paddy. There is no mistaking during that conversation that the father-son relationship is estranged because of Paddy's alcoholic ways of the past. We also learn that Tommy is fighting with a few inner demons of his own because of certain incidents in Iraq. Tommy feels weighed down by those demons and needs a reason to redeem himself. Tommy enlists himself in a high-prize money purse competition called the World Mixed Martial Arts competition and declares that if he wins the competition he would donate the prize money to the widow of his colleague who passed away in Iraq.

We are also soon introduced to Brendon, who is a respected and much-loved Physics teacher in a school. Outside of school, he also works part-time work as a bouncer and yet that is not enough for him and his wife to ward off their debts. Brendon had also been an amateur fighter in the past and in spite of much opposition from his sweet wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) decides to participate in the competition with the help of his coach played by Frank Grillo.

Warrior builds up with simmering intensity towards the finale where predictably the two brothers meet in the final. The masterstroke by director Gavin O' Connor in the second half is the contrasting styles of the two brothers standing out in their respective fights. While Tommy is fast and furious, Brendon is persevering and pugnacious. The personal equations between the sons and their father come to the fore with every passing minute and reach a crescendo in the climax. Hardy, Edgerton, Nolte and Jennifer Morrison put in highly credible performances and a couple of scenes stand out for their minimalistic brilliance. The scene where Tess receives news of her husband's fight in a dark room where she sits alone in anticipation is beautifully done. As is the scene where Tommy comforts his drunk father. I wish though some of those really low-lit shots were done better. It is largely acceptable that a brooding emotional situation requires negligible light. I somehow think it shouldn't come at the cost of the audience straining their eyes in a closed theater.

Warrior is a touching tale of a family set against the gritty and cruel world of mixed martial arts. At its heart lies a story of emotions even though it can also comfortably posture and position itself as a high-quality action flick. If anything, it pretty much makes the best of both worlds.

Rating: 7.4/10

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