Film Comment: Warrior is so much more than just a film about fighting

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“Growing up we all wanted to know who the toughest kid in the neighbourhood was right? I wanna know who the toughest man on the planet is. That’s what we’re gonna find out.” Set around the father Paddy (Nick Nolte) and his two estranged sons, Warrior follows their battles with each other, money, their pasts and with their addictions.

The film begins with the most obvious of warriors, the youngest son Tommy (Tom Hardy). I will leave my bias towards Hardy at the door; one can’t deny that he is often typecast as a brutish character, and Tommy is no exception. But Hardy again gives a stellar performance, creating a character that is unlike all his previous performances. Tommy is a powerhouse of emotion and that is what fuels him inside the cage. Hardy’s dedication to acting is not unnoticed, having bulked up physically for the role.

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ver, Tommy is not the only warrior within the film. His older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) appears to have taken the long straw, with his beautiful blonde wife (Jennifer Morrison) and two adorable daughters. Despite this, Brendan too has his battles. Money is his obstacle and fighting his escape-route. Brendan’s dedication to his family is heart-warming and his wife’s commitment to him is just an example of the unconditional love that this film promotes.

Then there is the fighting itself. You can’t avoid it – this film is about men fighting men. Yet the fighting is beautifully choreographed. It is so realistic that you genuinely feel for these men who are literally, beating the crap out of each other. The film is over two hours long, so to some it may drag, particularly as the last hour is predominantly fighting. However, the fight scenes are always different and the characters’ wrought emotions keep you engaged.  The fighting is violent but not bloody and the empathy you feel for the characters ensures that this film’s audience is not just men.

This film exceeded my expectations, being more than just a film about fighting. The most touching element is that there is no villain. Even Paddy, who is portrayed as a once selfish father and who still battles his addictions, is not a villain. You find yourself torn between the father and his two sons, simultaneously willing each of them on in their own struggles.

 

Warrior (2011), directed by Gavin O’Connor, is distributed in the UK on Blu-ray disc and DVD by Lionsgate, Certificate 15. 

 

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