Just finished watching WARRIOR and much to my surprise, I find it to be the most satisfying and possibly the best film I have seen so far this year. Everything works. Okay, so the plot is predictable, but once you're pulled in by the acting and direction you are gone for the next two hours and twenty minutes.
First off, the acting is incredible. I have no idea why the awards committees have neglected Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy for best acting honors, and Frank Grillo and Nick Nolte (who hasn't been this good since he starred in RICH MAN, POOR MAN a hundred years ago) for best supporting. These are the male counterparts in quality to Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain in THE HELP. Never over the top, always completely in character, Edgerton and Hardy play two brothers who have been separated by the vicissitudes of their alcoholic and abusive father, Nolte. Though the two brothers love one another their jealousies and slights run deep, only to be settled in the finale of a mixed martial arts contest. (I know it sounds cheesy, but amazingly, everything works.
Directed by Gavin O'Connor who also collaborated on the screenplay, the film never toys with the emotions of the audience. Instead it sets forth the story in a realistic manner so that you almost feel detached from the goings on until the last forty five minutes that rival the last moments in ROCKY for power and honesty. (As with ROCKY, the tears were flowing at the end not because of bathos, but rather because of the honesty of the actors and the director).
That I liked this film comes as a tremendous surprise as everyone had been telling me, "You think THE FIGHTER was good? Wait till you see this one." The problem was, I didn't think THE FIGHTER was good, turning it off after the first half hour. This, to me, was the true successor to ROCKY, one of my favorite films of the seventies.
And, as THE HELP was not a "chick flick" so is WARRIOR not a "guy film". Both movies are infused with honest emotion and, as such, make my best films of the year list. WARRIOR is now available on DVD and blu ray. Watch it. You won't be disappointed.