Year over year, there’s almost always appears a feel-good movie that works so well that you’re willing to forgive its many coincidences which build the plot and having a good impression of it despite many of its predictabilities. This year, that movie is “Warrior.” It was predictable, employ several coincidences to drive the plot forward, and too much to my liking at that, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. I have a great time, and fumed with excitements with every punches and kicks that went traded. Two hours went by without a hint of boredom from yours truly here, and I practiced shadow boxing on my way to the parking lot. That is how much I enjoyed this movie and thus named it, at the time of this writing, the best film that I’ve seen in theater this year.
First act in, heck, maybe first scene in, you’ll know what will happen at the end of this movie. Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) are brothers. They shared a very memorable but obviously not a pretty past with their father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) who is now estranged and probably forgiven, although definitely not forgotten despite his effort of sobriety and reconnection with his sons. The brothers had problems of their own, and on a separate occasions, choses a 5 million dollars winner takes all MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) tournament to try and make things right. Yeah, you know how it’s all going to amount to. The brothers fights at the final, with their father at the sideline.
The fight scenes were handled pretty well by Gavin O’Connor even if sometimes I feel that the camera takes too little time to focus on the fight and circling around the environment surrounding it instead. And despite its predictability, the fights were often good enough to put me at the edge of my seat, rooting for the brothers. When the final fight did arrives, however, it was an entirely different game and a different stake. It doesn’t matter who’d won in the end, because what matters most was the weight of the drama that transpires the fights, the continuation of the three principal characters, and things that didn’t happen on screen after the final ring of the match. That was what made it a little bit different than the other underdog stories (technically, it wasn’t a strictly underdog story) and that was what made this into one of my best film of the year.
I noticed Tom Hardy for the first time in “Bronson,” and again in “Inception.” He was in a totally different beast in both movies. And here, he is once again, shown his versatility. He didn’t say much in this movie, but his barely contained anger where implicitly, if not clearly, shown. It is hard to not sympathize with his cause in this movie but it is harder still to not noticed him with his stooped beefy figure, and drawn and anger look of his eyes. Joel Edgerton was less prominent than Tom Hardy was, if you asked me, but he was also given a proper treatment as a protagonist and again, make us rather hard to not rooted for him.
However, I was immediately drawn to Nick Nolte as the father. He epitomizes everything that I do not want to become when I’m a father myself one day. On the other hand, I could relate to his character. Emotionally, he is wrecked. He wants to reconcile with his sons, to make amends but has to accept that they’d be very hard to come to terms with him, if not impossible. Almost every scene that features him confronting with his sons breaks my heart. The driveway scene, the slot machine scene, and the hotel room scene were devastating and increases my agony and nearly put me to tears. Clearly, having able to relate to his character, it shows me that I’m still afraid of becoming a father. Afraid that I wouldn’t be able to give the best to them, afraid of abandonment, and a closed door to redemption that comes with it. Just like what happened to Nick Nolte’s character in this movie.
The culmination of the drama, happens during the final bout between the brothers. Fortunately, it doesn’t give away everything. Some of you might infuriated of the apparent loose ends when the end credit rolls. But for me, I think it’s perfect, because whatever happens next with the brothers and his father, are best left unsaid. Suffice to say that it was a new beginning for the characters. The rest lies within your own imagination.