Synema Synopsis: The Heart of “Warrior”

“Tommy, please stop staring at my heart like you want to eat it. Please. Tommy?”


by J-Smitty


Warrior *****


There are two words to adequately sum up Warrior: Heart and Soul.

It’s rare to find these qualities in a non-cheesy movie, but Warrior has them in spades (I have no clue what that idiom, means, I just know it applies).

I refuse to be cavalier about this movie; this is a Justin Smith, must see 5 star selection. There is nothing playing in the theatres right now that holds a candle to this movie (again, no clue what that really means).

Unfortunately, it hasn’t raked in the box-office bucks yet, but I’m guessing that’s because it lacks flashy special effects, hot women looking hot, or good looking men acting suave. This isn’t Rocky and it’s surely not Karate Kid. It’s gritty and grimy. It’s brutish yet brilliantly choreographed. Most importantly, its REAL. So are the emotions it pulls from you. And so is the motivation you get from seeing these Warriors overcome the the crap life threw at them.

—– (hold on, I need to go bang out 50 push-ups) —

“Come on, kid. If I’m in the movie, you know I’ll be gruff, gravelly and scream til I’m red-faced. Now let’s go!”

Warrior focuses on a family that fights, in more ways than one. Brendan and Tommy Conlon are brothers torn apart by life and an abusive father (Nick Nolte). Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is the everyman hoping to save his house and his life. Tommy (Tom Hardy) is an internally tortured war hero carrying around more hate than Osama Bin Ladin did before he retired. They haven’t seen each other in 14 years, but are brought together because of an International MMA Tournament featuring the top 16 fighters in the world all fighting for a $5 million purse (it must be a Louis Vuitton).

But somehow, through all this, is a story of love, redemption, family, and fighting. And motivation to go kick some ass.

It sounds hokie, I know, but I promise you, it definitely isn’t. From top to bottom this movie was perfect.

The acting was a 10. The directing was a 10. The story was a 10. Even the casting was a 10.

Writer/Director, Gavin O’Connor (Pride and Glory), better be recognized this award season. He crafted a sheer masterpiece; a movie that fathers and sons will watch 50 years from now and still be awed at its perfection. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a testosterone-fest for guys; women might be initially turned off by the violent world of MMA, but there is plenty of raw emotion to draw them in as well.

Even with the somewhat unrealistic- at-times storyline, there is something to this picture that just feels so real. The emotions portrayed on film are so authentic, it feels as if you are watching what reality television should have been. You’ll often forget you’re watching a movie, and instead feel trapped as if you’re the one living the moments; from the authentic moments of familial pain, to the awkward silence that set in before a big fight, to repeated punches to the head from a monster Russian (Kurt Angle).

“STOP calling me Uncle Owen!!!”

For the record, I’m an emotional rock. My brother says I only get emotional during Dolphin games, and that emotion is anger. But Warrior gripped me and didn’t let go. If I was a pussy like my brother, I would have cried. If you don’t have a visceral reaction to this movie, go to the doctor, you’re dead inside.

It never even occurred to me to do this before, but I have to give a shout out to a casting director, Randi Hiller. Warrior is probably one of the boldest and best casted movies I have ever seen.  The casting was unconventional, but every single role, even the fight announcers, seemed perfectly cast.

—– (Be right back, bench-press time) —

Joel Edgerton has acted for over a decade and I bet without looking at his IMDB page you couldn’t name 2 other movies he’s in. But Edgerton played both the loving, engaging teacher/husband and crafty MMA fighter to perfection. His heartfelt performance was so on-the-mark it put you on the edge of your seat; you want him to win so bad. Not in a “root for Rocky” kind of way, but in a “this could be me up there” kind of way.

Then you have Tom Hardy…Damn. That’s all I can say.

“Hmmm. Is my line ‘grrrrrr’ or is it ‘arrrrggggghhhhh’?”

If you don’t recognize Tom Hardy‘s name, don’t worry; you’ll hear it this year at the Oscars. Hardy got himself scary-big once before for Bronson, but he took it to the scary-shredded level in Warrior.  His Traps had Traps on them.  He was so huge he looked like he was smuggling Kim Kardashian on his back. There’s no wonder why Christopher Nolan chose him to play Bane in next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises.

But it’s not his body that makes him convincing as the mysterious Navy Seal turned MMA overnight sensation; it’s the pain in his eyes and the visible burden he carries on his shoulders. Hardy’s pain was so authentic, he must have shoved a 30 inch dildo in his ass throughout the entire shoot.

The true triumph of this movie is that even though Warrior hits on all the standard sports movie cliches, and there are only a few ways for the storyline to finish, you just don’t know which direction they’ll take it.  By the time Tommy and Brendan face off in the Championship Bout, you have no idea who will win, and better yet, you’re just not sure who you want to win.

Bottom line, if you’re an alpha male, you’ll love this movie.

If you aren’t (read: pussy), go see it so you’ll understand what type of movie you’d like if you were a real man.

If you are sans penis (read: chick), you should still go see this movie. If you don’t like it, lie and say you did to earn some mad street cred. Or just go to see what a dude version of Beaches is like.

Just like The West Wing and Inception, I’ll forever use Warrior as a barometer to measure whether I ever need to listen to someone’s taste.

There’s no reason to dislike this movie, only reasons to dislike you.

Sorry, I’m feeling a little amped up right now.

I’m going to the gym.

Before/After the Warrior Workout…No blood testing allowed.