Warrior (2011)

Before he destroys Batman, Tom Hardy gets to destroy his brother.

Tom Conlon (Tom Hardy) and older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) have pursued separate lives, but when Tom returns home to ask his father’s help in preparing for a championship bout, events lead the siblings back into each other’s paths.

Judging from the trailer, I was coming to expect a mixture between Rocky, The Fighter, and Never Back Down. 2/3 are great films that I loved, while the other one was shitty. This one is sort of in between.

Writer/director Gavin O’Connor does a great job of taking a plot and structure we have seen done time and time again, and still make it something amazing to watch. The first hour sets the whole story up, showing these two characters, who at first don’t even seem like brothers but if you have seen the trailer (which everybody has) you know that they are, and just how they each are different in their own way. The film also doesn’t try to explain what happened to these characters and why before the story begins, it is either brought up later in the film casually like it would in real life, and is sort of left up to our imagination.

Another great thing about this script is that the character development is amazing. I really felt intrigued by these characters because each were so likable and charming in their own ways, and you could tell that these two really are believable characters that you could see doing this extreme and intense sport for two reasons: one likes to do it because he’s simply angry, the other does it for money. As the story builds up, up, and away the dialogue gets very heart-wrenching and believable and works when it’s trying to show the problems a family has when they all stop loving and start hating. Hey, it’s a gay line but after watching this flick, you’ll see what I mean.

The fight scenes are also pretty bangin’ because I was expecting them to be all that shaky-cam crap we see in just about every single film where there’s some sort of action or tension happening, but instead they are incredibly well-staged and I could actually tell what was going on too. Also, when you hear somebody get their face smashed in, it sounds like somebody getting their faced smashed in and who doesn’t just love that?!?

The only problem with the fighting is that you had Hardy’s character practically laying out other fighters the same way every time just about 4 times in a row, and it didn’t bother me until I realized that he was just a new fighter. I mean yeah, there are sometimes guys that come into the ring every once and awhile that just totally show everybody else up, even with barely any prior MMA experience, but just watching this dude tear through professionals like Joey Chestnut with hot dogs was a little too hard to believe.

I have still been contemplating about whether or not I actually still liked the ending, or thought it was too schmaltzy but I’ve decided to basically go either way on it. The reason I liked the ending was because I felt that it was true to the story and really had me feeling even more connected to these guys more than ever, and when the ending happened, I felt like it was a great way to turn this story off. However, I started thinking about it more and more and started to realize that a lot of it got really schmaltzy and very lovey dovery way too quick.

I’m all down for cliches and predictability if the film keeps me entertained, which is what this film was doing for the longest time, but when all of these people just started going out all-over-the-place practically telling each other they love each other, it seemed a little cheap just for a more heartfelt ending. Did it touch me? A little bit but with all of the right things the script was doing beforehand it was kind of a shame to sort of see it go for the extra schmaltzy notes that The Fighter did so well in avoiding.

However, this film would be nothing without it’s perfect cast. Tom Hardy is near-perfect in his total bad-ass role as Tommy Conlon, who if you have seen Bronson, looks the part and if you have seen Inception, definitely knows how to act the part as well. Hardy just seems so angry about something the whole film and it really adds an extra layer of that mystery to him that has us attracted to his character in the first place, and he is just so incredibly tough-looking that when it comes to the fighting, I just about feared for whatever poor soul was in the ring with him next.

Joel Edgerton is also great as the modest and a lot more nicer brother, Brendan, and proves that he can handle a lead role all to himself. I guess some people will see Hardy’s performance and just keep their minds on him the whole time, but when it comes right down to it, Edgerton knows how to add those extra levels of emotional depth to him as well that when his character needs more sympathy from the viewers, we’re able to give it to him since he seems so likable and just like your average everyday high-school teacher, that will beat the shit out of you, if you don’t do your homework.

Nick Nolte has been doing some of these crackly old-fart roles that honestly hasn’t done many things well for him lately ever since his beautiful mugshot, but I think he’s starting to win that amazing rep he once had in Hollywood, and his role as Padd, the boys’ father is the real reason why he’s back in action. Nolte is probably the most interesting and sad character of the bunch because he is now a washed-up alcoholic that has messed his life up so bad that he can’t seem to win back the one he once had with his kids and now suffers more and more. Nolte commands the screen just about every time he gets and I think this is probably one of his most brutally honest roles as of late, which makes it all the more tragic to watch.

Oh, also Kurt Angle is here as the MMA equivalent to Ivan Drago, Koba. Didn’t believe it for a second but me want to go back to watching some WWE.

Consensus: Warrior starts to lose itself a real long way by the end of the film, but has great writing, perfect performances from the whole cast, some fun action, and a story that has been done before, but with still hits with that emotional punch that it needed so much.



  1. Unfortunately, Kurt Angle is still in the shithole that is TNA as he’s also dealing with some legal issues and such. Great wrestler but needs to leave the company and come back to the WWE on a limited schedule.

  2. I saw the trailer for this last night when I finally got around to seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It looks good, I hadn’t heard about it before. Good review Dan.

  3. reading your review, I actually thought you’d be giving it a lower score. you surprised me. There are a few things that I thought could’ve been better, but overall, this is an amazing film!

    I actually saw Tommy as fighting not only for money but for self-punishment in a way as well. What do you think?

    • I think that as well but he just seemed so angry with everything, it was sort of like his way of letting loose of it all. But, overall great film. Thanks!

  4. I’m really looking forward to seeing this film! I’m a fan of Tom Hardy and it sounds like he delivers again 🙂

  5. I watched this on Tuesday. I am holding back my review until next week as it isn’t out here until 23rd.

    I really enjoyed it. More than I ever thought I was going to. Edge of the seat stuff. I know it is a bit unrealistic at points but I just let myself go and really had fun with it.

    Great write up my friend


  6. You and I agree on a lot of the same things about this movie. The ending had me thinking as well, wondering whether or not I really liked it, and I ended up appreciating its slight deviation from formula.

  7. I have a huge issue.
    I couldn’t watch the ending, I left exactly when Tommy is entering to fight his brother. And their father is on hid way. What happened after that, it’s killing me! Please anyone? Help me out!

  8. I agree that the ending got a little mushy, but I kind of expected that. When there’s only one protagonist you can have them completely beat the other guy, but with two people to fight for they probably felt they had to bring them together somehow.

    Great Review!

  9. dan, i just finished watching the movie ten mins ago, and i loved it. i honestly shed a few tears during the end. this is my new favorite movie. i knew i could count on you with a great review. this may be my only serious comment ive ever left on this. but i loved it. but i wanna know what you think about edgerton’s trainer.? i wasnt sure how i felt about him thanks dan… your boy

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