Reviewed by: Timothy Flick
|Featuring:||Tom Hardy … Tom Conlon
Jennifer Morrison … Tess Conlon
Joel Edgerton … Brendan Conlon
Nick Nolte … Paddy Conlon
Noah Emmerich … Dan Taylor
Bryan Callen … Himself
Kevin Dunn … Joe Zito
Denzel Whitaker … Student
|Producer:||Mimran Schur Pictures
“Family is worth fighting for.”
It’s been said that everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. For Tommy and Brendan Conlon, the battles are twofold. Coupled with personal struggles, the virulent brothers spend a majority of their time swinging their fists and launching violent kicks as the world watches and cheers. Fueled by past hurts, the men release their anger in a constant destructive cycle that began with the mistakes of Paddy, their regretful father. The film revolves around the battles of the three men and their struggles with a tragic past. As their broken lives center on a violent sport of destruction, moviegoers are left wondering if it is possible for the miserable men to rebuild the wreckage of their broken family.
When Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine and former wrestling sensation, shows up on his father’s doorstep for the first time in fourteen years with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to fight, Paddy (Nick Nolte) willingly agrees to train him. Paddy, who exhibits achingly real remorse, wholeheartedly prepares Tommy for Sparta, a massive, hyped-up martial arts event. Meanwhile, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a former fighter who stepped down to a common career as teacher, makes a determined return to the ring as well, left with no other choice in the face of financial difficulties.
Despite Paddy’s newfound faith and years of staying sober, both Tommy and Brendan find it hard to let go of the havoc his drunken years wreaked on their lives. Tommy’s hatred for his father is palpable in all of his interactions with him, while Brendan remains bitterly estranged from both his brother and father, stubbornly holding onto past hurts and betrayals. Yet, despite the brothers’ determination to remain alienated, the paths they choose to take end up crossing in a way they never could have imagined.
“Warrior,” marketed by director Gavin O’ Connor as a Christian movie, does carry a positive message and could be suitable for families, if not for the swearing, violent fights, and crude references. Brendan is a notable family man, letting his daughters paint on his cheeks at a birthday party and making sacrifices for their well-being. Tommy saves the life of a marine in Iraq, when he rips off the door of a sinking tank in a river, and plans to give the millions he’d win with his Sparta victory to the widow of his best friend, a man killed in action. With the help of his new faith in God, Paddy fully takes ownership of his past mistakes and makes a large effort to make up for the damage he’s done to his son’s lives—and continuously tries, in spite of their hostile rebukes.
Fortunately, the film is free of any nudity or explicit sexual content, only containing a few moderately offensive references. Tess insinuates that Brendan should wait up for her so they can fool around together; she is also seen from behind in only a shirt and underwear while she talks to Brendan. When Brendan first begins to fight again, the fights occur outside of a strip club. There are several vulgar references to body parts.
As for violent content, in a movie focused on the sport of mixed martial arts, violence is almost to be expected. Throughout the film, the camera shows a variety of angles and allows viewers to hear the painful sounds as contestants pummel, kick and strangle each other into submission. Some fighters are knocked out completely with vicious blows; others are strangled into compliance. The sound of breaking bones is heard, and Brendan’s face becomes decorated with many cuts and bruises. The brutality that Brendan endures is often very difficult to watch, as he faces contestants much bigger and stronger than he is. He nearly risks his life every time he steps into the cage. Paddy’s past domestic violence is mentioned, but not seen.
Several curse words are heard throughout the film, including one f-word, 15 s-words and a smattering of others. God’s name is misused several times, as well.
***Caution: spoilers ahead*** Despite the wrathful bitterness and resentment that weighs so heavily on the father and his two sons, a breakthrough is reached at the end of the movie in an incredible, touching and resounding scene you have to see to believe. The peace, forgiveness and reconciliation that shine as the brothers walk out of the fighting cage together, combined with the tears on Paddy’s face, pack an emotional wallop for the ending of the film. *** end spoiler ***
As humans, we find it very hard to forgive each other; we hold grudges for far too long, as is shown by the Conlons in the film. We are flawed sinners. However, with God, if we ask Him, we are always forgiven, no matter what. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” No matter what we do, God’s grace is sufficient to forgive us. Just as Paddy turned his life around with his newfound faith, we are made new in God; we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8).
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
“…the film is capable of captivating a large and mixed audience that will come for the striking in-ring fights, but will tell others to buy a ticket and take the pulse of the film's unbelievable heart. … [4/5]”
—Kate Erbland, Boxoffice Magazine
“…marketed as a Christian film… ‘Warrior’ is a violent, profane movie, far from the universe of what we’ve grown to expect from Christian films. It’s also resonant, inspirational and, artistically, quite good. It works in ways that art sometimes does: It challenges, it questions. And it intentionally tries to shock us into grappling with its message.”
—Paul Asay, Plugged In
“…so gripping that, even at 139 minutes, ‘Warrior’ leaves you wanting even more. [3/4]”
—Nick Schager, Slant Magazine
“…Knockout performances by… central characters and powerfully effective fight sequences… a carefully modulated film about acceptance and redemption. … [3/5]”
—Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
“…An improbably effective and affecting mix of raw emotions and exciting smackdowns… an emotionally and dramatically satisfying payoff…”
—Joe Leydon, Variety
“…It hardly rewrites the rulebook, but ‘Warrior’ is a powerful, moving and brilliant sports-pic-cum-family drama. Like ‘The Fighter,’ but with kicking. …provides a massively uplifting climax. … [5/5]”
—Dan Jolin, Empire [UK]
“…a emotionally raw family drama well disguised as a brutal fight film. … ‘Warrioris’ one of the few fight films in which winning or losing is notthe key factor.”
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
“…Redemptive… Strong Christian, moral worldview dealing with forgiveness, with troubled father of two men having become a Christian, but the positive aspects are not always clear… WARRIOR also contains drinking, lots of fighting violence and some foul language, so extreme caution is advised, despite the movie’s apparent Christian worldview. [3/4]”
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide