Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In love with Warrior(s)

Sunday afternoon, I had to bury myself under ice packs on the couch, which meant I could watch a movie of my choice. I always try to chip away at Oscar-nominated films first, so when I saw Warrior was streamable on Netflix, I decided to watch it.

I have not been so wrapped up in a movie in a very long time.

The movie is about two estranged brothers, played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgarton, whose lives are converging again after fourteen years apart. Tommy (Hardy) escaped with his mother when she left her abusive and alcoholic husband Paddy (played by Nick Nolte). He returns to see his father as an adult, but only because he wants Paddy to train him for the ultimate MMA tournament. Paddy has been dry for almost a thousand days, and since he wants to have a relationship with Tommy, agrees.

Meanwhile, the older brother Brendan is married with two young girls, teaches high school physics, and is struggling financially. In order to try and get money to keep from having to declare bankruptcy, he's taking part in underground fights. When his school finds out, they suspend him, giving him no choice but to try and fight again to make ends meet.

Tommy becomes an online sensation when a video of him giving a champion a beat down goes viral. That leads to the knowledge that he was a Marine and saved a group of soldiers from drowning by literally tearing the door off a tank. Though he's winning everything, his disdain for any celebrity only makes the public love him more.

Needless to say, their worlds collide.

Simply put, this movie was STUNNING. Some people characterize this as a sports movie, and while the action scenes with the fights are breathtakingly tense and extremely well-done, they are just a backdrop for what is essentially a family drama. This is about three men, each with their battle to fight, struggling to find a way to live with the other and themselves. Each actor brings both a strength and a fragility to their performances that engages within minutes of the film's beginning. I loved all of them, but...

Hardy's portrayal of Tommy is the one that broke me. I have a soft spot for dangerous, damaged men, and Tommy is as complex and broken as they come. I cried over him more than once, as well as cheered. Because his battle is more poignant to me than his brother's. Brendan is fighting for external reasons - the prize money to save his family - while Tommy's fight is truly with himself. He is trying to beat the demons that are devouring him alive, and the only way he knows to keep them at bay is to focus on winning.

And this is where Warrior's true magic comes. You can appreciate it for the fighting. You can appreciate it for the family drama. But you could also appreciate it for the fact you can analyze it for all the metaphors that abound in it. The movie is just chock-full of them, like how Paddy listens to Moby Dick throughout the whole thing, which introduces the question of how Ahab is a parallel to Paddy.

But I'm not going to spoil you for any more. I think you should watch it and find them for yourself. At the very least, watch to be entertained.

It's all that and more.
I'm giving away a copy of Marie Harte's Raising the Bar this week. Go leave a comment on the post for a chance to win!


Clare London said...

I enjoyed the movie, but more memorable is the day I was driving to work and stopped at the lights between 2 London buses, both carrying the promo poster for the movie. I felt I'd been sandwiched between two M/M covers! :)

Vivien Dean said...

Ha, I love that! :)