REVIEW: Warrior

2 10 2011

I had the benefit of seeing “Warrior” in August well before critics had really begun to weigh in on the movie, thus alleviating me of the responsibility of sorting out exacerbated expectations.  But after I watched it, rave reviews started rolling in by the dozen.  My response was a lot of head scratching.  What exactly did they see in the movie?

If we are really so desperate for an underdog story in these hard times that “Warrior” is exalted as a great film, then the recession has run a lot deeper than I thought.  Gavin O’Connor’s film is an over two hour snooze, hitting cliché after cliché with no imagination and even less personality.  It has no emotion, no character, no fire in its belly – something especially disappointing that O’Connor is the man who helmed the fantastic “Miracle,” one of the last truly great sports movies.

“Warrior” gives you no reason to care for anyone, not Tom Hardy’s washed-up soldier who wants to deny his heroism, not Joel Edgerton’s struggling teacher who boxes on the side for extra cash, nor their recovering alcoholic father who has estranged these two brothers played by Nick Nolte in a shameless “life imitating art” ploy.  They slowly – and I’m talking molasses slow – train towards the MMA Sparta tournament, Hardy’s Tommy with his father Paddy and Edgerton’s Brendan with an old buddy.  It’s about as moving as watching me type this review.

Then we suddenly get to the tournament and it becomes a HUGE deal that they are brothers.  It’s all over the news, it’s getting tons of publicity, we gear up for their big confrontation, we’re expecting fireworks … and we get nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Hardy is a fantastic actor (see “Bronson“), and I’m sure Edgerton isn’t terrible, but their Oscar scene feels totally anticlimactic … just like the rest of the movie.

I remember sitting through the fight scenes at the end of the movie and thinking, “It shouldn’t be this hard for me to be entertained by MMA brawls.”  But they are so frightfully nonplussing that it’s almost impossible to get engaged.  Add in the fact that I’m only rooting for Tom Hardy’s character because he’s awesome in “Inception” and you get perhaps some of the most lackluster sports action that I can remember.  If a Will Ferrell sports comedy can get you sucked into an event, it really can’t be that hard.

One trusted friend said of “Warrior” that it was a poor man’s version of “The Fighter.”  I’d go further.  It’s a poor man’s version of a sports movie and poor excuse for genre filmmaking.  I’ve been sensing that the sports film, save a few exceptions, has been heading in the wrong direction for years.  But if this lazy, boring movie can be lauded and praised to excesses, then we should be planning a requiem service sometime this decade.  C / 

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4 responses

4 10 2011
CMrok93

Great review Marshall. The cliches are there but Edgerton, Hardy, and Nolte rise this above being just than just Rocky with MMA. It’s a well-made and emotionally gripping story that brings out some real gut-wrenching moments as well as the great knock-outs

5 10 2011
Brian

Wow. I completely disagree. The cliches were there, sure, (like they are in all sports movies) but I think the sports portion of the film was a distant second to the character’s relationships in terms of the film’s focus. And I thought all three of the leads were outstanding. Good review!

6 10 2011
Marshall

I’m still shocked that I’m in the minority on this one…

24 10 2011
Fitz

A case of good actors in a movie that doesn’t deserve them.

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