Movies – Sorting out family issues in the cage

2011-10-07 14:13

Film: Warrior (Nu Metro)
Gavin O’Connor
Featuring: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison and Kevin Dunn
Rating: 7/10

Like the mixed martial arts the characters practice, Warrior is unpredictable.

It is the story of two men who grew up in the same house with the same abusive, alcoholic father, but who are poles apart in adulthood.

Tom Hardy is Tommy Conlon, a deeply psychologically scarred man who turns up on his father’s doorstep years after running away. Nick Nolte, a drunken brawler in real life, is perfectly cast as the phuza-faced father trying to make amends in the sober twilight of his life. Only it’s too late, the damage irreparable.

Joel Edgerton is Brendan Conlon, Tommy’s science-teacher brother who is happily married with two children and a crippling amount of debt. Having dragged himself out of the ghetto, he looks like he might have to go back unless he comes up with a plan.

With the scene set, the film follows the two main stories, those of Tommy and Brendan, to the logical destination – the cage. The brothers take parallel journeys to end up in a big competition – Sparta.

There are some seriously ripped bods in this film and the beatings these guys take – and stand through – make them positively Olympian.

The fighting’s exciting, showing off the sport’s varied methods of takedown and knock out.

Hardy, who film fans will remember from Inception, broods from start to finish and the unfolding of his story is surprising, which is rare in Rocky-like films.

Writer and director Gavin O’Connor is experienced in writing family dramas, having previously made Pride and Glory with Edward Norton and Colin Farrell; as well as Tumbleweeds, a big hit with Janet McTeer back in 1999.

Here his characters slug out all their issues in the cage – literally.

Socioeconomically, the Conlons could be neighbours of the cast of The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg’s Oscar-nominated flick.

Once again, this film is set in the grimy, gritty streets of a nondescript (in this case Pittsburgh), depressed American city. The kind of place where fighting is both a way out of dodge and a way of staying alive too.

Warrior hasn’t the budget, cast or nuanced character development of The Fighter, but it is a worthy contender to take that film on.

Those who liked The Fighter will most certainly enjoy this one, which is a variation on the theme.

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