Director: Gavin O’Connor | 140 minutes | action, drama | Actors: Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich, Nick Nolte, Bryan Callen, Denzel Whitaker, Kevin Dunn, Kurt Angle, Frank Grillo, Gavin O’Connor, Fernando Chien, Jake McLaughlin, Kevin Christy, Brenna Roth, Jeff Hochendoner, Vanessa Martinez, Maximiliano Hernández, Laura Kenley Chinn, Liam Ferguson
Anyone who turns a scraped-off story into something that looks like a burly drama has talent. Director Gavin O’Connor picks up the right rhythm in “Warrior” and delivers an intelligent mix between family tragedy and sports violence. The seed once planted by a certain Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky” grows under the direction of O’Connor and with the help of an explosive cast into a modern variant of the underdog principle. With hard uppercuts of emotional outbursts and physical contact, this print aims the viewer at the canvas several times.
This time, not one but two potential nobodies allowed to work their way out of the shit. A piquant detail is the fact that these are two brothers who cannot vent each other and are diametrically opposed to each other. Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) is shocked when suddenly lost son Tommy (Tom Hardy) shows up. Years ago, he fled with his mother to escape his father’s outbursts, prompted by alcohol abuse. The ex-marine wants to compete for the main prize of a grand MMA tournament called Sparta. In Mixed Martial Arts, two fighters fight each other in a cage until one gives up or is knocked out. Tommy has a purpose and wants his old man to train him again. Paddy is more than happy to accept the proposal to reestablish ties with his son. His other son Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is also planning to participate. For this teacher, the event is a way to support his family. The two brothers struggle with their sudden reunion and the phantoms of the past being revived. An ultimate family clash seems inevitable.
The balance between personal drama and the brawls is maintained until the last half hour. From then on, ribs creak and trained granite hulls collide with each other at a scorching pace. The build-up to the grand finale is varied and a few heartbreaking scenes provide a click to ignore the existing clichés and take “Warrior” for full. Tom Hardy impresses as a growling and foaming tormented soul. Nick Nolte rightly dragged an Oscar nomination out of his performance in his old age. The scene in the hotel room between father and son causes damp eyes. Joel Edgerton offers excellent resistance as a humane houseman. We have already forgotten the somewhat unrealistic course of the fights after the film. What remains are the phenomenal actors and the excellent direction.