Preview Screening: Warrior

I saw the new film Warrior – in theaters September 9 – at the Museum of the Moving Image earlier tonight. It’s not the sort of story I would necessarily expect to be interested in – the sport in question is mixed martial arts – but I liked Tom Hardy in Inception and was eager to see him in something else. To put it mildly, he absolutely blew me away with this film. Both Hardy’s character, Tommy Conlon, and his acting are intense, multilayered and constantly compelling. He is a magnetic presence, stealing every scene he’s in. During his fight scenes, Tommy is an animal, a beast who crushes the other fighters with vicious attacks. His brutality is especially convincing because of Hardy’s physical appearance: his muscles are almost grotesque from some angles, especially in his neck; more to the point, he is beautiful in an almost ugly way, with a sharklike face and penetrating eyes. When he fights, you really feel his punches – a lot of that credit goes to the excellent sound/sound editing. There’s one scene in the ring when Hardy resembles a seething mass of tattooed flesh more than a working human being. He is full of pain and anger and hurt, just waiting to get it all out of his system. Warrior provides Hardy with a marvelous vehicle for his talents (also, I’m guessing he and/or the screenwriters were influenced by On the Waterfront, particularly because of Tommy’s slurred-mumble way of talking and the cut in his eyebrow).

Tommy’s brother, Brendan, is played by Joel Edgerton in a less flashy but nevertheless strong performance. Brendan is made sympathetic from the outset and you always root for him. Jennifer Morrison has a relatively small role as Brendan’s wife Tess but does her best with what the script gives her. Frank Grillo is good as Brendan’s friend and trainer, also named Frank.

And then there’s Nick Nolte… what a tremendous performance. He had two scenes in the film that left me crying. I know that playing alcoholics and war veterans is old territory for him, but Nolte does it exceptionally well. It would be a shame for him not to receive at least a nomination come Oscar time.

Go see the movie! Great action, not terribly bloody, simple yet powerful. The plot and dialogue are a tad predictable at times but the movie is really worth seeing. And the 2 hours and 19 minutes fly by.

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4 thoughts on “Preview Screening: Warrior

  1. I completely agree on the sound editing, it’s so very effective at making Tommy a brutal force to be reckoned with. It takes one to two very loud punches from Tommy to score a victory devoid of grace and sportsmanship (contrast with Brendan’s emphasized calm and elegant “BEETHOVEN!” fighting style).

    There are really too many examples to list of the classic “brother vs. brother” trope that goes as back as Cain and Abel that the movie does indeed evoke. As far as action drama films go, I came in not expecting too great a masterpiece, but the movie prevailed to be decent in its own right in that it focuses on two characters and their duality as part of the plot and is not just all fight choreography.

  2. The Cain and Abel analogy is a good one. I never even thought of it but it’s obviously the basis for all of those “brother vs. brother” stories.
    I didn’t expect a masterpiece either, so I was really surprised and pleased to find that the movie was both entertaining and emotionally resonant. I can’t wait to write about Warrior again for my next Iron Cupcake Project 2011 post!

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