Warrior - Blu-ray Review

'makes the wise choice not to revisit the brothers past through flashback, something which a less skilled director would have defaulted to, but then gets stuck in a mire with the protracted explanation behind Tommy's time in the marines'

Warrior was always going to get compared to 2010's The Fighter and in the opening moments of the film it's very easy to see the echoes between the two. The tale of working class Tommy (Tom Hardy) returning to his hometown and teaming up with the father he hates (Nick Nolte) for one last shot at the big time is a familiar story with a familiar arc, far outstretching the reach of just The Fighter, but obviously and immediately calling David O. Russell's film to mind.

Except... Warrior isn't just about Tommy. Warrior is also about Tommy's brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton), who has a similar dislike of his father and who also needs that fabled one last shot at earning some money out of pummelling someone's head into a canvas mat.

The problem with this structure is that Warrior's key differentiator from The Fighter also becomes its biggest problem. At the start of the film, the narrative very definitely follows Tommy and his story but by the end it feels like director Gavin O'Connor has attempted to turn the focus right around, making Brendan the main player. Before the inevitable final scene, O'Connor even goes out of the way to pretty much eliminate a sub-plot from Tommy's narrative, forcing the focus on to Brendan's underdog drama. It's a real problem with the film; imagine if, in The Fighter, Russell had allowed Christian Bale's character to become the narrative focus, above and beyond Mark Wahlberg's success in the ring. It just wouldn't have worked anywhere near as well.

Minor story quibbles continue throughout whilst the good performances try their best to keep you distracted. Hardy is brutal, Edgerton is an easy-to-like screen presence and Nolte growls a little too harshly. O'Connor makes the wise choice not to revisit the brothers past through flashback, something which a less skilled director would have defaulted to, but then gets stuck in a mire with the protracted explanation behind Tommy's time in the marines. It's a real mixture of a film; one that manages to avoid clich├ęs yet, with the same regularity, blunder in to them blindly.

This of course creates a stasis. Warrior doesn't quite usurp your expectations, as The Fighter did. Whilst Russell made a film that escaped its underdog genre-trappings, O'Connor has made a film which can't quite avoid them all. It is, therefore, entertaining, but certainly not without substantial fault nor a heady feeling of seeing all this before.




Look further...

'the outcome of the film is never clear until the last scene, and it is a genuine struggle for the audience to decide who to root for' - Front Room Cinema

2 comments:

  1. Simply the best movie I have seen lately. It has excellent fight scenes, superb acting and a family drama.

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    1. Cool, really glad you liked it so much. I have two close friends who are big UFC fans and they too said this was everything they hoped for.

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