Warrior has many things going for it. It's the first big film about a sport that is on the rise. It has a director in Gavin O'Connor that is good at filming the action scenes required for this film, and two top-notch performances from Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte. However, there is one big problem with this film. It completely falls apart in the last act. The film not only ends in a way that this reviewer didn't want, but completely forgets about plotlines and characters it set up earlier. It also puts all of the weight of the film on Joel Edgerton's shoulders, and he is the least successful of the three main characters.
Warrior follows two brothers, who parted way early in their life, as they enter a UFC tournament and fight to win the title.
Gavin O'Connor (Miracle) does a solid enough job in the director's chair, but I wish he could have improved on some aspects of his work. For instance, the fight scenes (which encompass much of the second half of the film) are very energetic, but, for someone with no knowledge of UFC rules, they ultimately come off as confusing. O'Connor by no means should have included a scene in which some character just spewed out all of the rules, but a little more clarity would have been helpful. Additionally, O'Connor could have easily improved the film by picking one of the brother to be the main point of focus throughout the entire film. There is no sense of who you are supposed to root for until the very end. By that point Tom Hardy has stolen the film. So when O'Connor puts more emphasis on Edgerton at the end, the film falls apart. At least, O'Connor tries his best to raise the film above the quality of the script. The script really doesn't become a deterrent until the last act when Nick Nolte, who is such a force in the earlier half of the film, completely disappears (besides a non-speaking cameo) and a major subplot involving Tom Hardy's character is never resolved.
The actors prove to be much better. Tom Hardy is completely mesmerizing as the more unpredictable brother, Tommy. The role itself doesn't require much range, but does require a lot of physicality. Hardy brings that in spades. You really believe that Hardy could beat the crap out of anyone. Any doubt about being able to pull off Bane in the upcoming Batman film can be put away after this performance. Nick Nolte also delivers a great performance as the father of the two main characters, even though it is not given the time it deserves. It's a very heartbreaking role (especially a certain scene in a hotel room), but never falls into melodrama thanks to Nolte's realistic performance.
Unfortunately, the same amount of praise can't be given to Joel Edgerton. The film ultimately wants you to root for his character, but he comes off as very bland under Edgerton's watch. His character is written as a Rocky-esque warrior, but he is anything but.
Warrior features some good action and a pair of amazing supporting performances, but it is let down by a weak lead performance and a terrible final act.
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