When it’s over, one father, two brothers, and lots of skeletons in the closet. The Warrior is half about family and half about the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) boxing industry. Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy), an ex-marine with a tragic past, enlists his estranged father (Nick Nolte) to train him for the MMA championships, where the winner will take the highest winnings in MMA's history. Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) is a former MMA fighter turned teacher, who returns to the ring in order to support his family. Torn apart by resentment and betrayal, the two brothers come together in the ring to battle their differences and for the huge payout. Partly feeling like Rocky (1979), Brothers (2009), and The Fighter (2010), I thought the film worked on many levels - the drama as well as the action. The drama was very good, and I was pulled immediately into the lives of this dysfunctional family through dialogue and direction. The acting was believable, with each lead completely transformed into their character. Hardy and Edgerton looked in top form as fighters. They brought to the film an enormous amount of sensitivity, gentleness, and rage. Nolte was perfect as the alcoholic father trying to make amends. The trio kept me fixated throughout. Jennifer Morrison played Brendan's wife, Tess, who I felt was underused. Serving as the only main female counterpart in the film, Tess could have been given more screen time, especially in the second half of the film, where she was almost non-existent. Still, a solid performance by Morrison. The second half of the film was mainly dedicated to the action - the physical fighting. The choreography, direction, and editing was believable. I felt I was right there in the action and fans of the sport will appreciate this attention to detail. My only gripe about the film was that the film spent most of the second half in the ring, and away from the family drama. The emotional drama was pushed to the side, while the physical drama took over, and at that point, it was about the mixed martial arts. But, once the two brothers entered the ring, Director Gavin O'Conner cleverly combined the two elements, making the last 20 minutes of the film all about “coming to terms,” physically and emotionally,and about the pent up anger and frustration that tore the family apart so many years back.
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