Warrior (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Warrior</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, April 2012) Being neither a fan of combat movies nor family drama, the most remarkable thing about Warrior is how well it managed to keep my attention.  After a shaky first fifteen minutes, the stakes become clearer: These are two brothers from a broken family picking up Mixed Martial Arts and eventually facing off in the ring.  The story isn’t much more complicated than this (and the repetitive third act contains very few surprises), but the film itself is well-made, with strong performances to lure viewers in.  Nick Nolte earned an Oscar nomination for his role and Joel Edgerton turns out a strong performance as a family man forced to return to the ring in desperate circumstances.  Still, it may be Tom Hardy who gets the thankless role of the younger brother cast adrift in his own isolation.  It all amounts to a fairly predictable, but well-executed story, one that doesn’t suffer as much as you’d think from an improbable sequence of contrivances.  There isn’t much to say about the grainy cinematography (except that some shots of Atlantic City look pretty nice), but the direction is a straight-ahead affair.  Heavily slathered in the usual Americana sauce (family, military, sports), Warrior takes itself a bit seriously, but in doing so manages to avoid many of the traps that a less-earnest approach to the same subject would have encountered.  It’s manipulative, of course, but baldly so.  It’s arguably best seen as a double-bill with The Fighter.

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