Hold your horses, Screen Actors Guild. I know you like Nick Nolte for his role as the formerly alcoholic father of two MMA fighters in Warrior—offering him a Best Supporting Actor nomination—but please consider the young’ins! It’s the sons played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton that really put the passion in this intense family drama, easily the best fighting flick since The Fighter. The story, written beautifully by director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle), tells the tale of two mixed martial arts fighters, both with big stakes and both the estranged sons of one man, Paddy, played with a passionate fire by Nick Nolte.
The rugged Tom Hardy (Inception) plays Tommy with an anonymity that fits his character but doesn’t show off his strengths. Joel Edgerton (The Thing) plays the likeable, blue-eyed high school teacher, Tommy’s brother Brendon. The story begins slowly (the movies lasts a LONG 2 1/2 hours!), creeping its way to the intense, dramatic, full-circle finale (which closes to the wonderfully passionate song “About Today” by The National).
Warrior isn’t the critical knockout that The Fighter was, though it has already reached #144 on IMDb’s “Top 250” list and holds a rating of 8.3 (bettering The Fighter’s 8.0). To be honest, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said already. Warrior pieces together an alienated family bond, turns MMA into a legitimate film topic, and announces the return of Nick Nolte. One critic hailed it “As powerful and unforgettable as Rocky!” While it may be a bit of an overstatement, Warrior does hold its own.