Gavin O’Connor’s excellent film Warrior is a rousing film that’s has brains and packs a punch. Watching the trailer, my initial reaction was that it looked like a knockoff of The Fighter and the story of two brothers who solve their differences in a MMA competition just sounded atrocious. What could have been a cliché ridden bore ends up being one of the most engaging films I’ve seen all year. O’Connor infuses his solid script with just the right amount of action and pathos, giving each character their chance in the spotlight. Tom Hardy is solid as usual as Tommy, a man who can only express himself through violence. He’s brooding, intimidating and nursing a damaged psyche. Then there’s Joel Edgerton who anchors the film with his wonderful turn as Brandon, a fighter turned physics teacher who gets back into the ring to solve his financial problems. Despite its two solid lead, the performance that will garner attention is Nick Nolte’s. His portray of a former drunk who’s trying to mend his broken relationship with his two sons is raw and terribly affecting. Nolte’s Paddy is the Mellissa Leo character in The Fight, only without the bad hair and overacting. I can’t even remember the last time Nolte was this good onscreen.
This is a tremendous film.