Fun fact: Nick Nolte, of all people, was nominated for an Academy Award for this film.
Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior, starring Nolte, Tom Hardy, and Joel Edgerton, is an emotional tale detailing the effects of an alcoholic father on a pair of brothers and how they ultimately overcome the damage done. One aspect of the film I particularly enjoy is the use of mixed martial arts simply as a frame for the telling of the story, rather than as the true focus of the film. Warrior is about family and pain and forgiveness and regret and utilizes the intensity of physical battle to make these themes come across all the more powerfully. How could one feel Tommy’s (Hardy) mix of confusion and fear more effectively than by watching him punch another man in the face?
Tommy is the most interesting character in Warrior because he, quite clearly, is the most emotionally sensitive; his resentment of his father is immense, the pain he has felt at the death of his mother and his brother-in-arms is excruciating, his confusion about what he should do and where he should go, and the fear caused by this confusion all translate into his ferociousness in the cage. O’Connor’s decision, as screenwrter, to turn in a quiet character in Tommy is brilliant — Tommy desperately wants to be the “tough guy,” despite being deeply affected by the events of his life. He holds his emotions inside, they bubble, and are frighteningly released in the ring. Had Hardy spent the film blabbering, that interesting character would have collapsed completely. Tommy really would be perceived as the “tough guy,” had he not been so introspective and obviously distressed.