Thursday, September 8, 2011

Warrior review; an amazing film about family, forgiveness & picking yourself back up

Ever since the trailer debuted, I knew I wanted to see this movie.  Warrior is directed by Gavin O'Connor.  He directed another great sports film, Miracle.  In this film, we get not one, not two, but three great performances by very gifted actors.  Tom Hardy (Inception), plays Tommy Conlon, a Marine veteran.  He has just returned from the Middle East and is finding it extremely difficult to live a normal life.  Joel Edgerton (King Arthur) plays Brendan Conlon; a physics teacher and former UFC fighter trying to save his home from foreclosure.  The men's father is played by Nick Nolte; a former alcoholic and terrible father to the boys when they were growing up.  Now the brothers enter a Mixed Martial Arts tournament for redemption, and ironically, to bring their family back together.

What I liked about the film:
The Story
I don't normally explain plot in my reviews, but I have to divulge a little bit here.  The story of the brothers is so good, so intriguing, we're drawn into the film.  At a pivotal age, the brothers are separated due to extreme circumstances (I wont spoil why here).  They each have resentment towards the other, and both resent their abusive, alcoholic father.  But the story is not thrown in your face with flashing lights.  We discover the pain the brothers have gone through in bits and pieces.  All of which comes to light before the finale of the tournament, when the brothers fight each other.  Don't worry, I didn't spoil anything the trailers didn't tell you already.  I also liked how the MMA fighting takes a backseat to the hurt in their hearts.  The best sports films focus on the person, not the sport.

The Acting
Tom Hardy attracted a lot of attention after Inception.  In this film we see a different side of him.  He's angry, bitter and relentless.  But at the same time, he is reserved and in charge.  He walks a fine line between controlled and crazy so well, we never know what he's going to do on screen.  Joel Edgerton has to play a character with the weight of the world on his shoulders.  A mortgage he can't afford, hospital bills, a sick daughter, an absent father and a failed UFC fighter.  His character is the underdog, one that will never quit.  Then there is Nick Nolte, who plays a man trying to get sober.  He's been clean for almost 3 years and is trying his hardest to patch things up with his sons. The three men are riveting.  I was floored by the three men's interactions.  Compelling and entertaining, amazing.

The Action / Cinematography
The Mixed Martial Arts in the movie is nicely shot.  There are some wide shots from the bleachers, as well as up-close, in your face action shots. The character development scenes are nicely shot. Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi creates tension with a slightly bouncy camera shot that feels like it's someone eavesdropping on the conversation.  Great stuff.

The Score
I've said it before and I'll say it again; score is so incredibly vital to a movie.  As I've gotten older, I've developed an ear for the score in films.  And one thing I noticed is, score can make or break a sports film.  Mark Isham creates a wonderful soundtrack that evokes tremendous emotion.  The highs are extremely high and the lows are extremely low.  Nicely done.

The Climax
I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with an incredible brother.  He has been my best friend since he was born.  We've lived together as room mates until the day I was married.  And with that being said, we had some great fights throughout our lives.  But there's something about a brother's love that can't be explained.  You can fight and hurt each other, only to make up five minutes later.  The climax of the movie is the culmination of years of pain and suffering by both men.  They both have pent up anger and frustration towards the other.  They are both fighting to move on from a troubled past.  They're both fighting for prize money that will solve their economic woes.  The fight itself, along with the aforementioned cinematography and score create an unbelievable build up to the climax.  I wont give anything away, but I will tell you this; my sold-out theater went from weeping for the characters to literally a standing ovation.  It was so powerful, and so emotionally gripping, it will stay with me for a long long time.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Pacing
I understand pacing and editing are purposefully done (for the most part).  But the first and second act (before the tournament) needed to be touched up a bit.  There are character development moments essential to the build up; however, there are other scenes that needed to be re-cut and sped up.  It is my opinion that these long, drawn out scenes could have been cut down and you wouldn't lose anything towards the overall story arc.

The Verdit:
An amazing metaphor on so many levels
Sports can be a great metaphor for the different struggles in our lives.  The underdog vs. the front runner, picking yourself back up, feeling like we're up against the ropes, etc.  Commentary on the wars in the Middle East, alcoholism, our country's current economic downturn, the housing market and drug use are all touched on in this two hour film.  Give it up to great writers, a great director, terrific acting and a solid story.  It's very VERY rare I see a movie twice in the theaters, but this will definitely be one of them.  Now everyone call your brothers and tell them how much you love them.  Then go see this film with them.

1 comment:

Sean Hughes said...

I agree completely, Im angry I waited so long to see it but it is a truely amaeing movie.