Two brothers face the fight of a lifetime – and the wreckage of their broken family – within the brutal, high-stakes world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting in Lionsgate’s action/drama, Warrior.
An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father.
But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, winner-takes-all battle of their lives
In the first scene of the film Nick Nolte’s character, Paddy Conlon, a former boxer, is seen leaving church. Throughout the film the idea is conveyed that he is not the same man he used to be, a drunk whose violent tendencies turned his own family against him. In fact, one of his sons left with his wife while the other remained with his father until he could leave home. Unfortunately, the religious experience Paddy encountered is never explained. I think the filmmakers missed an ideal opportunity to reveal why Paddy is no longer the man he was.
The acting is top notch in this movie, as Joel Edgerton (“The Phantom Menace”) plays Brendan Conlon, older brother to Tom, who refuses to forgive Brendan for remaining behind when Tom moved away with their mother. Tom Hardy plays Tom Conlon, who goes by the last name of Riordan, as an intense and willful young man, who only returns to their father to ask his dad to train him as he plans to enter a MMA ( Mixed Martial Arts) tournament, one with a hefty payday. The catch: Brendan plans to enlist in the tournament as well, as he is struggling to keep his home on a teacher’s salary.
Edgerton plays Brendan as a man with a quiet strength and determination and he does it masterfully. This portrayal contrasts with the intense and wild character of Tom Riordan as played by Tom Hardy and it works in a powerful way. It is intriguing for sure to see what leads up to the two brothers ultimately being pitted against one another for the championship. Tom seemingly can’t let go of his hatred and Brendan doesn’t want to fight his brother…but he winds up with little choice, and once he decides there is no alternative, he is determined not to come in second.
Despite themes of forgiveness and loyalty, and a compelling conclusion, the movie falls short of receiving our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal due to the intensity of the MMA bouts and very strong language.