Warrior – Review (Spoiler Free)

Warrior Poster - WikipediaWarrior is not just notable for being one of the best sports movies in a long time, but also because it boasts three excellent lead performances. Nick Nolte is heart-wrenching in his role as the ex-alcoholic who’s crippled by his previous failings as a father, and who is now trying to make amends with his estranged family. Tom Hardy plays one of Nolte’s two sons; the deeply troubled and perhaps slightly self-righteous ex-marine, and here he gives another example of the animalistic rage and anguish which he is so spectacular at. Make no doubt about it; Warrior contains one of Hardy’s best performances, and that’s saying a lot. The third member of this trio is Joel Edgerton, he’s playing Nolte’s other son; the financially struggling father of two girls, and he has enough of an emotional back-story to also really deliver, even if not quite to the same level as his two co-stars.

I’m completely uninformed about MMA fighting and only went into this film the first time because of the two leads. The second time around was different because by then I appreciated just how well the fight scenes are executed; once they arrive they build and build in both intensity and emotional weight, whilst also managing to avoid becoming repetitive. Warrior isn’t exactly free from the odd cliché and expected moments, but the film involves you to a degree where you don’t really notice them occurring, and if you do then the performances are engrossing enough for it to not really matter. The film does so many different things well, it even does a good job at mixing up the inevitable training montage that takes place in these kind of films.

Some reviewers, I’m thinking of Mark Kermode here, portrayed Warrior as succeeding only as a thrilling, blood pumping, fighting film, however as far as I’m concerned that’s a complete misjudgement. Don’t get me wrong, I love the visceral, pain inducing realism of this film. It feels genuine, and I found myself utterly caught up in its tension whilst being made to feel each and every blow – and that’s both the physical and emotional ones. This isn’t simply an MMA fighting film, but is an emotionally loaded family drama that is only made more painful as it is set within an arena of violence. It’s a great film and is definitely worth a watch.



  1. Nice review. This definitely was one of the most overlooked movies of 2012.

    1. Thanks, it was a 2011 release here but it is amongst the best of either of the two years!

  2. Good review Rumsey. Nolte is terrific in this movie, but it’s Hardy who steals the show and reminded me mostly of Brando, if Brando took steroids instead of ego-pills.

    1. Haha! Hardy is my favourite actor working today, he’s such a versatile and skilled performer, and the Brando comparison is not unwarranted. I reckon he hasn’t yet reached the best performance of his career, the best so far being his in The Take. Have you seen that?
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Great review! Like you said, it’s more of ‘an emotionally loaded family drama’ and that’s the reason I was so taken by this film. I couldn’t care less about MMA fighting but there’s so much more than that here. Hardy, Edgerton and Nick Nolte are all superb in this.

    1. Thanks Ruth! Yeah I agree with you, although the fighting is done really well and ended up completely involving me, to the point where I was wincing with pretty much every blow!

      1. Hi Rumsey [not sure if that’s your real name or not], I like your blog. I gave a shout out to you on my monthly Everybody’s Chattin’ post 😀

        1. Thanks Ruth, I’ll head over there now! As to my name, my real name is James – feel free to call me by either that or Rumsey, I don’t mind 🙂

  4. Excellent review here, one I completely agree with. Warrior was an odd film for me. When I saw it in theaters, I walked away liking it, but nothing more. But months (literally months) went by, and I still couldn’t get it out of my head. I watched it again and was floored. A gut wrenching and honest film, both in and out of the ring.

    1. Cheers Alex! I hear you on this, the first time around I liked it but that had nothing on what it made me feel a second time around. Such powerful performances. Are you familiar with much of Hardy’s other work? I’m currently trying to catch up with the few of his that I’ve missed along the way.
      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Right on Mr Rumsey, a very good review. I think this is pretty underrated, and like you mentioned the three main performances were all really good. For me, Nick Nolte was the pick of the three, thought he was fantastic in a role that could have so easily been cliche.

    1. Thanks! That’s very true about Nolte, he did a fantastic job. I pick out Hardy because I find his tortured characters utterly fascinating and compelling to watch, and this is a decent example of this. Still though, how rare is it that you get three such excellent performances together in one film?!
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Well written review. I agree with the fact that Warrior is probably one of the most underestimated movies of 2012, however, I still didn’t feel as passionate towards it as I felt towards Wrestler (which to me had similarities in plot). Still, strong performances and great, universal story.

    1. Thank you! It considerably improved for me the second time that I saw the film, don’t get me wrong the first time around I came away thinking it was really good, but it wasn’t until the second viewing that the emotional weight truly hit home. I prefer this one to The Wrestler I think, but you’re right there are certainly similarities, same with Rocky as well.
      Thanks for commenting!

  7. Great review, James. One of my favorite movies of 2011. Like you say, it’s sometimes a bit clichéd and predictable but the acting elevates it. Fantastic performances and throughly engrossing drama. Loved it.

    1. Cheers man, glad that you rate it highly as well! Engrossing is a good word – I really didn’t expect that it would involve me as much as it did.
      Thanks for commenting. 😀

  8. I loved this film as it was one of my favorites of 2011. I could never understand why it didn’t do better at the box office.

    1. I know, it doesn’t make any sense that it did so poorly. 😦
      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. some great thoughts on one of my fave movies. Nick Nolte was so moving in his performance, don’t you think?

    so good. Nice write up Mr. Rumsey

    1. Thanks! Nolte was excellent and moving, you’re right. I still think Hardy gave the best performance, but only by a fraction.

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