It started really innocuously. I went to watch this movie with Naz ...
And I was a sobbing mess at the end of it. Haven't cried like that watching anything; not since the staging of Lantai T Pinkie and Erma Fatima's amazing monologue way back in 1997. That one was really bad in that there were 4 of us watching the theatre with only 2 pieces of Kleenex between us. FML.
Anyway ... most of my friends know that I have been frothing at the mouth to watch this movie thanks to this man,
who is not only dastardly attractive and massively talented, but also warm and kind and just bloody adorable as seen on his interviews.
But I have to say that I was absolutely ecstatic with how Gavin O'Connor crafted a family drama with mixed martial arts as a sport as a background.
Mad fangirl squeals and massive spoilers ahoy!
Warrior was actually about the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and how people deal with things that shatter their lives. The theme of growing with an abusive drunken parent is not a new one but the treatment of the issue was handled in a very testosterone rich environment here. It was about three men; brothers, sons and father, dealing with their past and reconciling it with their present and future. Jennifer Morrison as Brendan's wife, was the only female character of note in the whole film. With only 1 female character providing the gender communication balance, the contrast between how clear the lines of communication between Brendan and Tess makes the snarly mess of the connection being forged between Paddy and his sons more poignant.
I love how realistically the complex relationship of the characters were portrayed here. Paddy, the father, is a recovering alcoholic and former Marine, living quietly with his audiobook cassettes and AA sessions. I think it was telling that throughout the film, he was listening to Moby Dick, particularly passages on Captain Ahab. His home was clean, shabby, and filled with mementoes of the family he had driven away with his drunken rages. Nearly all the walls have pictures of his sons at various stages of their childhood and teenage years along with the trophies of their sporting triumphs.
Tommy came back out of the blue, offering him a drink and a chat. Their exchange was rich with sarcasm and recrimination on Tommy's part, but Paddy tried to defuse the conversation by acknowledging his guilt and impotence in making things right. It looked like Tommy was bumming around with dependency issues like his old man, except that he was a loner and avoided people whenever possible.Tommy was mostly silent, whatever came out of his mouth was usually curt and to the point, except when dealing with his father and brother. Mr Hardy did an amazing job here, his subtle facial expressions told most of the hidden story that Tommy never voiced.
Brendan, the older brother, had the perfect life: a good job that he enjoyed as a physics teacher, a beautiful wife and 2 adorable little girls. He decided to return to the life of cage fighting upon discovery that the bank was about to foreclose on his home; evidently a teacher's salary is crap the world over. He sought help from a friend, Frank, to train him to enter Sparta, the mixed martial arts tournament with a 5 million dollars purse to the champion.
Tommy had his own reasons to enter the same competition and bullied Paddy to be his trainer. Both of them endured brutal training but under highly different regiment to prepare for the tournament. Paddy is an old school trainer, largely utilising running to increase endurance and brute strength training to build up the power of Tommy's body. Frank's approach was closer to New Age, using Beethoven and relaxation techniques to help the fighter focus.
Both brothers were also diametrically different fighters, matching their physicality and personality. Brendan was a technical fighter, often his matches ended with his opponent tapping out. He often looks for windows of opportunity and was willing to endure punishing blows in order to trap his opponent in a vise-like pin that wouldn't be amiss by a python.
Tommy, on the other hand, was a decisive and brutal fighter, his bouts were usually short and forceful. His kicks and hits were very powerful; often he would knock down his opponent and finish them off with brutal blows. He rarely acknowledged the audience and walked away immediately after winning the bout. It was evident that to him, the fight was merely a means to an end and he fought with the intense ferocity of a no-frills predator.
As Tom Hardy eloquently puts it, "There’s things about Tommy, Tommy’s not fighting for anything but to be heard, to get rid of the noise so it’s silent. The noise is in him, the fight is in him when he’s still. The chaos when he’s in the ring, it’s completely on the outside, it is silent on the inside, until he meets his brother and then he falls apart. It’s an intervention in the ring."
The film was very satisfying in how it dealt with all the issues and the ending ... that was what turned on my waterworks. The fight scenes were beautifully crafted and choreographed, making the actors appear as very convincing fighters. All in all, if you enjoy testosterone and drama, go watch.