by Matt Stevens
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
"We're not going backwards any more."
Brendan Conlon's (Joel Edgerton) words to his wife essentially sum up the entire feel of this incredible concoction of action and drama. "Warrior" is a film that encompasses the realms of hope, redemption and even penance. Gavin O'Connor, director of the classic hockey film "Miracle," has once again found the perfect balance between a heart-pounding sports film and an emotion-evoking drama.
Being a huge fan of "Miracle," I was very much looking forward to seeing O'Connor's newest film. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed.
"Warrior" is the story of Tommy and Brendan Conlon (Tom Hardy and Edgerton), two brothers who were separated at a young age when their mother moved away from their alcoholic father. For years, the family remained broken apart. Following the death of his mother, Tommy, now an ex-Marine, returns home to his father. Meanwhile, his brother, Brendan, is suspended from his job as a high school physics teacher.
Brendan, whose home faces foreclosure, decides to re-enter the world of Mixed Martial Arts in an effort to make payments to the bank. Tommy does the same, hoping to fulfill a promise he made to the wife of one of his friends who was killed in Iraq. The two brothers enter a worldwide tournament unbeknownst to each other, and end up facing off for the world championship. All along the way, the men try to repair what has been broken for so many years.
Hardy and Edgerton have impeccable give-and-take. Even though they don't have many scenes together for the majority of the film, what little time they spend together is tension-filled and incredibly explosive. In a sense, the whole film is centered on the brothers' attempts to mend their broken and resent-filled relationship.
I won't give away any spoilers, but the way in which O'Connor brings resolution to the characters is very unique. It is not the archetypal sports movie, in which the "good guy" wins in the end. This is because there really is no "good guy." The last 20 minutes of the film really make it what it is. It is an episode of reconciliation in a very new and never-before-seen form.
Overall, I give this movie a 4 out of 5 stars. Everything was nearly flawless. The director of photography captured every seen perfectly, the story flows, and, apart from a handful of gratuitous scenes, the film is heartfelt and deep throughout.