The marketing for Warrior, an early fall film, made it look like a low-budget version of The Fighter. Which, in some ways, it is, but it does feature decent performances, particularly from Nick Nolte, who is now receiving end-of-year accolades, including a surprise Screen Actors Guild nomination as best supporting actor. As in The Fighter, the focus is on two brothers from a low-income background who turned to professional fighting (in this case, mixed martial arts) as a path to success. It suffers from lesser direction, music, editing, and cinematography (shot in a gritty style reflective of the choking growl coming from Nolte, who appears to have swallowed rocks) than the Oscar nominee, and has an after-school special quality with a plot twist that can be seen coming within the first twenty minutes.
Tom Hardy, who impressed audiences in Inception, could not be more different here as the almost primitively hostile younger brother Tommy, and perhaps should have chosen a better vehicle, although he is now appearing in the ensemble of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, hopefully with more positive results. Joel Edgerton plays the other brother, Brandon; an Australian actor previously best known for Animal Kingdom, he is currently filming The Great Gatsby as Tom Buchanan, which is difficult to imagine. Here’s hoping these two young actors find success in such higher quality material. Nolte plays their recovering alcoholic father, best in quiet moments and less so during the inevitable fall.
Warrior is available on DVD from Netflix and at Hollywood Express in Cambridge.