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Starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison and Nick Nolte
Screenplay by Gavin O'Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman
story by Gavin O'Connor & Cliff Dorfman
Directed by Gavin O'Connor and Cliff Dorfman

IN SHORT: Not just two guys beating up on each other. [Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material. 139 minutes]

If there is any flaw in Warrior, it is that we had to explain a key plot point to a female reviewer on the way out of a press screening. We don't know how she missed it but it involves a biological connection between the two men we are about to describe.

Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) is both a war Hero. It's a technicality. His unit was wiped out in Iraq. The sole survivor, he deserted his post. Tommy's heroism was a complete fluke -- he came across a trapped tank when he was running for the border and, so the reports on the teevee say, "ripped the door off" the sucker and saved the soldiers inside from drowning. He's been AWOL for fourteen years and carries a moral debt to the family of one of his deceased compadres.

He feels he owes one of his deceased mates big time. All he can do is fight, which introduces the viewer to the Mixed Martial Arts battle octagon. Those who watch on cable know what it is. Those that don't pick it up quickly. MMA is a street brawl inside a steel cage (sic). Tommy wants the MMA title and money that comes with it to provide for said mate's wife and family. Tommy knows that coming out into the spotlight will bring the military police down on his hide, fast.. He needs a trainer. He hires Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) for that job. There's an estrangement between the two men, once father and son, that keeps walls up even as the elder fights his own battles with sobriety.

There will be, of course, a challenger if and when Tommy gets to the final battle in the upcoming MMA tournament in Atlantic City.

In Pittsburgh, physics teacher Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) has his own problems to deal with. He is behind on the mortgage. He's got a wife, Tess Conlon (Jennifer Morrison) and kiddies to provide for. Then the bank pulls the plug and Brendan unleashes his rage on a punching bag at a local gym. Then on a middleweight contender, Frank Grimes () who is sent down for the count.

Hey, if Brendan should happen to find a pickup fight to make a couple of bucks, well, he used to fight in the UFC. He wasn't very good; promised the wife he would never fight again. But the house will go away in a month or three. A pickkup fight generates some income, but gets the teacher suspended. With no other option, Brendan reconnects with coach Frank Campana (Frank Grillo) and nearly begs Campana to use his connections to open the door to the forthcoming SPARTA Tournament in Atlantic City, with a $5 millions winner take all title on the line.

Even worse, Brendan swore to his wife -- when he came out of the coma -- that he would never fight in the MMA octagon again. Brendan hangs on for dear life when Tess reads a riot act. He will go to Atlantic City to fight. She will not. He has no options. When word of his fighting activity gets to his boss at the school where he teaches, Brendan is suspended. His decision to fight is now fueled by desperation. He will not lose the house. He will not let his family fall. Because . . .

Somewhere in the past a family was ripped apart. Paddy Conlon fell into the bottle. Sons Tommy and Brendan were separated and one would never know that mom was dying. If there's anything close to a male soap opera -- meaning that you know the title will bring brother against brother, it is a movie after all -- Warrior is it.

And if you're thinking "oh I saw this in Rocky," some of it you have. MMA fighting is much more brutal, which is why the broken old fart writing this review doesn't watch it. That Warrior conveys the violence and still manages to bring to conclusion (years of) emotional estrangement of pain and anger well, dang it, a soap opera for men is what it is.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Warrior, he would have paid . . .


We saw it once. We wanted to see it again.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Cliff Dorfman
Click to buy films by Gavin O'Connor
Click to buy films starring Nick Nolte

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.