Fraternal Force

Warrior

 warrior_ver3

Pride and Glory director Gavin O’Connor mixed martial arts film Warrior saw Nick Nolte garner a 2012 Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor and is an engaging film about two estranged brothers who eventually reunite not so much in a domestic arena, but in the world of SPARTA or Mixed Martial arts fighting.

Brendan Conlon is a popular Pittsburgh physics high school teacher battling to pay the mortgage played by Australian actor Joel Edgerton, last seen in the gripping Melbourne crime thriller Animal Kingdom. His character is introduced as he teaches a class of students an important law of physics – Force = Mass+ Acceleration, and this formula could really signify the relationship that Conlon has with his younger brother Tommy Reardon played with an appealing physicality by British actor Tom Hardy, recently seen in This Means War and as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Reardon after an elusive tour in Iraq has returned to the US under a cloud of suspicion, which serves as one of the narrative threads of the film and seeks shelter with his father recovering alcoholic and ex-boxer Paddy Conlon brilliantly played by Nick Nolte.

As Warrior progresses, the relationship between the father and his two estranged sons is explored amidst an ongoing battle not just to heal old wounds but to also to prove their fighting skills, both physically and emotionally as the showdown for the Sparta championships in Atlantic City takes place. A couple of directorial flourishes adds to the build up  and suspense of this fighting narrative whilst carefully maintaining the right balance of physical aggression and emotional depth  as events in both Pittsburgh and Atlantic City unfold and the brothers are forced to confront themselves and more importantly deal with all the pain that an abusive father has caused them.

The suspense is terrific in Warrior and while some of the plot points like Tommy’s Iraq escapade is slightly contrived, the film as a whole is a gripping testimony to the fraternal force that binds the two men as they compete in a physical arena, while their father has to contend with his own personal demons. Warrior is highly recommended for those who liked films like Rocky, Million Dollar Baby and The Champ and is held together by a superb performance by Nolte along with rising stars Edgerton and Hardy whose physical endurance and emotional range is equally captured to make the film’s final showdown riveting entertainment.

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