I’m not a big fan of fighting sports, so if I’m going to see a movie about them there has to be more to it. I’m a pretty tough sell on this kind of movie. That being said, Warrior was entertaining. Would I list it on my top 250 favorite movies? Probably not. There were a couple things that kept me from getting really pulled into the movie, one being parts of the writing. There were moments that were just plain cheesy to me – and that extends to the music choices, particularly during the last couple fights. It just didn’t work for me. And as far as the backstories go, I think if they wanted to include them to add dimension to the movie, they should have done a much better job of fleshing out Tommy’s (Tom Hardy) background in the Marines. I connected more emotionally with Brendan (Joel Edgerton) because of the simple fact that his reason for entering into the Sparta tournament are well portrayed and we not only get involved emotionally with Brendan himself, but also with his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) and, to a degree, his daughters. Do I sound feminine enough yet?
One thing I did like about the fight scenes was how they are shot. The camerawork makes it seem like more of a documentary than a Hollywood blockbuster and that works in the movie’s favor. Those camera shots are not unique to the fights, though – all through the movie it looks as though a hand-held camera was used to make it seem more realistic and less staged. It makes for a much more down-to-earth telling of the story and I enjoyed that. It’s more personal and in a way it helps you relate more to what you’re seeing.
Also, Nick Nolte was great as Paddy Conlon, the father of Tommy and Brendan and a recovering alcoholic. He was not a good father when the brothers were younger and they still hold it against him. Seeing him both at his high and low moments throughout the film is moving and it’s apparent that the ruined relationships with both of his sons still hurts him.
Hardy and Edgerton are both great in their roles as competing brothers. Their relationship is tough – they have grown apart so much that on one level it is easy to compete against one another. At the same time, you can see that it is hard on them to be so estranged from each other as brothers, especially with such a rocky relationship with their father. I think that their stories are ones you can connect with easily, but the acting is what brought that across more than the writing and that’s where the film falls short a bit for me. I can only imagine if the writing had been on the same level as the acting how great it would be.