Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Warrior - QC Review

Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgarton, Nick Nolte and Jennifer Morrison
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutes
Release Date: Sept 9, 2011

Tommy has something he needs to prove...

Some films are made to evoke a certain emotion from its audience, like it is pointing directly at your soul and telling you to feel either distraught, excitement, sadness, happiness or compassion. Most films that attempt to do that often times come off as highly manipulative, putting their characters into situations that are clearly manufactured to elicit a particular feeling at a particular moment.The successful ones however are able to tap into those emotions without it ever feeling forced, it lulls you in with real characters facing real world problems that we all deal with and let us go on a two hour journey with them. "Warrior" is the first film in decades to bring forth all of those emotions and do it in a way that feels completely natural, fresh and honest.

"Warrior" takes the familiar story of a fatally fractured family unit that finds eventual peace and reconciliation through a shared sport activity, but not just any sport. Writer/director Gavin O'Connor decided to tackle the burgeoning full contact sport of Mixed Martial Arts (or MMA) fighting. This choice was a perfect fit and backdrop for this story of two brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgarton) whose tainted past with their estranged and alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) comes into the light when both brothers decide to compete in the same competition for a cash prize that will save one man's family and the other man's soul. This is not a movie about MMA fighters, this is a movie about a family discovering they need each other more than they ever imagined.

Brendan has a family to look after....

The success of this film is simple, we actually care what happens to each and every character we are introduced to, which may seem like a no-brainer but it is something many similarly structured films fail at. Anchored by amazing performances from everyone involved, most notably the two leads, it takes no time at all to become fully invested in each of their lives and will have you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of every little nuance leading up to the inevitable bombastic conflict between the two brothers.

Even the more cliche moments with friends and family cheering on their loved ones from afar or characters suddenly showing up that said they wouldn't work fantastically to get the audience properly pumped for the greatest cinematic showdown since Rocky Balboa faced off against Apollo Creed nearly 30 years ago. To put it bluntly, the film grabs a hold of you from minute one and never lets go. You will want to know what happens to them after the credits roll and its not because it left anything out (it does a fine job of wrapping things up by the end), its because you simply want to spend more time with them.

The fighting, while extremely well executed, is only there to support the drama as it unfolds which is all it should do. The failing of many sports genre films is that they focus too tightly on the actual sport and either throw in a generic story with paper thin characters or limit its appeal strictly to fans of the sport. You will love every minute of "Warrior" regardless of your feelings on the sport it uses to tell its story, and that is the hallmark of master filmmaking at its most masterful. Powerful acting mixed with powerful storytelling combine to make "Warrior" an underdog worth cheering for. It is a triumphant film experience that will leave you emotionally invigorated which you are not likely to soon forget. How this got passed up for any sort of award nominations last year is utterly baffling. This superb film gets the highest recommendation possible and should not be missed by anyone, see it immediately.

The only thing standing in their way is each other.





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