U.S. Marine Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) visits his father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic who has become a born-again Christian. Tommy becomes angry about his father’s formerly abusive behavior and Paddy fails to convince him that he has truly changed. The next day, Tommy enters a gym where he beats a professional fighter named Pete “Mad Dog” Grimes (Erik Apple) unconscious in less than 30 seconds, in a fight which is filmed via a cell phone’s video camera and later uploaded to the Internet, where it goes viral. Tommy learns about a winner-takes-all mixed martial arts tournament called Sparta in which the winner will receive $5,000,000. In order to provide for the family of his fallen friend in the Marine Corps, Tommy asks his father to help him train for the tournament, but only under the condition that Paddy does not try to reconcile their relationship. Meanwhile, Tommy’s older brother, Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), a high school physics teacher and former UFC fighter, is struggling to financially provide for his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) and two daughters and faces the possibility of his home getting foreclosed due to mortgage re-financing to pay for his younger daughter’s open heart surgery. To increase his income, Brendan risks returning to his former profession as a mixed martial arts fighter battling amateur fighters for money. Rumors of Brendan fighting in the ring begin spreading amongst his students. The school’s superintendent, objecting to his participation in such dangerous activities, suspends him without pay. Left with no other option, Brendan seeks the training of old friend Frank Campana (Frank Grillo) and begins competing in smaller venue fights. After the fighter Frank planned to enter into the Sparta tournament is injured during training, Brendan convinces Frank to enter him as a replacement. Later that night, Paddy comes over to meet up with Brendan in his drive way to try to reconcile with him, but to no avail. Even though Brendan had forgiven his father, he still doesn’t trust him, and doesn’t want his father starting trouble with his own family. Before Paddy leaves, he tells Brendan that he’s been sober for 1,000 days, and that Tommy is back in town, and to be sure to look him up. After arriving at the tournament, Brendan discovers that Tommy has also entered. Tommy is still bitter at Brendan for staying behind with Tess when Tommy and their mother left the drunken and abusive Paddy; Tommy was left to care for their mother when she became terminally ill. Brendan claims that he has forgiven his father for the wrong he has done, but Tommy is unconvinced. Meanwhile, the video of Tommy beating “Mad Dog” attracts the attention of a Marine in Iraq whose life was saved by Tommy months prior. The information and video of Tommy saving the Marine is shared with the press and Tommy becomes a national hero, gaining a massive fan base and appreciation from not only viewers, but from the U.S. Marine Corps as well. However, Tommy’s records surface from the Corps and reveal that he deserted the military after his entire unit was killed in a friendly fire bombing. Tommy had been using his mother’s maiden name as his own surname in order to evade arrest for his desertion. The military police will take him into custody after the tournament is over. However, Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog in the Sparta tournament sets him on a collision course with Tommy and the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart in a fight not only for survival but for family ties…

“Warrior” has all the emotional themes you can imagine; redemption, reconciliation, the power of the human spirit, the bond of a family, forgiveness, love, estrangement and alcoholism. The strong side of “Warrior” is particularly the performances from Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Nick Nolte gained a well deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Paddy Conlon. He´s at his best here. The emotional structure with the torn apart family in the focus, is gripping and powerful and several scenes are hard to watch. The casino scene between Nolte and Hardy and also the bedroom scene between them both presents us with truly powerful acting. And the fight scenes has a very real life touch to them and they are skilfully staged. The weak side is the flag waving and overbearing sappy patriotic platform that creates an uneven balance in the movie and sort of ruins partly the movie for me. Many scenes that are set within the MMA world feels so “staged” and “faked” in my point of view and that drags down my grade. Yes, there´s gripping action, powerful acting and heart, but it´s not enough to balance up the less good parts of the film. (3 and a half out of 5)

warrior_ver3