No. 179 – Warrior (2011)

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I am watching what the general public regard as the best 250 films ever made.

Because while Warrior is a perfectly acceptable way to pass two hours (and another twenty minutes), I am stumped as to how this can be seen as any kind of milestone in the history of cinema.

When Warrior was first released, I shunned it. The world doesn’t need another Rocky-wannabe so soon after The Fighter I thought to myself. Then friends who I respect (and some I don’t) wouldn’t shut up about it. Then I noticed its rating on the esteemed Internet Movie Database and added it to the high priority pile on my Lovefilm list.

And it’s this betrayal that has made me angrier every day that has passed since I watched the film. I dismissed the film and unimportant cinematic fluff, then got excited about only to find out I was right in the first place.

The basic story revolves around two estranged brothers, and their inevitable encounter in an MMA (Multi Martial Arts) tournament with a WINNER TAKES ALL $5 MILLION CASH PRIZE!

I am now going to talk about the film in a way that means I cannot help but spoil it.

If you don’t want to spoil the film for yourself then either bookmark this page and return once you have seen it, or alternatively just read on and don’t bother to watch the film. The choice is yours.

Are you ready?

Right, what annoyed me most about the film is that while on one hand it tried to be gritty and neo-realistic in places – the plot hinged on some totally unbelievable plot points that totally undermined the tone of the rest of the film. Imagine if Nil By Mouth had a scene where someone wins the lottery, and then get’s voted in as Prime Minister on a populist anti-Domestic Violence ticket. Or if in Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes Paddy Consandine was actually a British special agent with the back-up a rogue cell in the style of Mission Impossible?

For example, the top 16 MMA fighters are really going to put their body and health on the line with the prospect of getting NOTHING in return. Sport doesn’t work like that! All of these fighters would have demanded at least an appearance fee to cover the costs of training/travel/not being able to walk again. This appearance money would have probably been enough to solve Tommy and Brendan’s assorted financial problems – which explains why the film doesn’t pan out that way.

While on the subject of the tournament, it is more than just convenient that Tommy and Brendan both manage to blag a spot in the most talked about MMA competition of all time. I just don’t buy it.

Tommy’s past as a marine is badly handled in my opinion. First we’re meant to believe he ripped the door off of a tank with his own hands. Why couldn’t it have been a more believable form of heroism? Then, when outed as a deserter not only do the military police decide to wait until the end of his participation in the tournament before arresting him, but thousands of marines turn up to cheer him in the stadium. Cheering for someone who deserted his squadron in Iraq? Really?

How he got home from Iraq to Pittsburgh is probably best left in the imagination of the writers as well – lest they decide to bring out a Bourne-esque prequel. Actually, Tom Hardy would make an excellent character in the Bourne series, but I digress. The fight sequences are pretty impressive – but if you are a MMA fan and want to see decent MMA fight sequences, you might as well watch the real thing.

I usually love Tom Hardy, but he was surprisingly one-dimensional in this role, and I got really fucking annoyed at having to keep turning up the volume to hear him and Nolte try and out-mumble each other. I was far more emotionally invested in the Joel Edgerton character, and I think a pretty decent and more entertaining film could have been made just showing his side of the journey. It would have been shorted, funnier, and overall more enjoyable in my opinion.

The film was too long, unoriginal, and took itself too seriously. I’ll trust my gut instincts a little more in future.

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