Directed by Gavin O'Connor
With solid central performances (most notably an inspired performance by Tom Hardy) and an emotionally satisfying conclusion, Warrior makes for a solid (albeit forgettable) entry in the fighting/boxing sub-genre.
I seldom find myself protesting a film's length, but with a 140-minute runtime, Warrior dragged on for far too long. For a movie with little new to offer the genre, there simply isn't enough material to justify the runtime. Due to the slow pacing of the script, it feels that many of the scenes found throughout could have easily been left on the cutting room floor. Instead, we are left with a sprawling, listless drama with far too many unnecessary scenes and a plot we've all seen unfold many, many times before. 20 minutes could have easily been cut to make this much easier to sit through.
One can't fully blame this movie for its lack originality. The boxing drama is a tired sub-genre with very limited capabilities. Few sports movies are able to provide a completely fresh perspective or insight on the subject matter, and Warrior is by no means an exception. The only thing that sets it apart from the boxing genre, is that it is technically not about boxing -- it's about mixed martial arts.
When it comes to films of this genre, the single aspect that usually stands as the defining attribute is the acting. Yet again, Warrior proves to be no exception to this rule. Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte deliver solid performances, fleshing out their characters well, though it's Tom Hardy who steals the show. Providing by far the most engaging performance in the picture, Hardy manages to take his difficult role and add an extra layer of depth not seen in any of the rest of the cast. After Bronson, I knew just what to expect out of him as an actor, and he doesn't disappoint. Granted, he was given the flashiest role in the movie, but upon review, it was easy to see why.
Throughout the first half of the movie, I didn't find myself connecting with any of the characters, but by the finale I was fully engrossed. An ending can either make or break a movie, and much to this film's benefit, this was a particularly strong ending. It's only after leaving the movie that you realize how long and drawn out it was, but the impact it makes within the final moments balances out any flaws in pacing it may have had during its duration.
In spite of the fact that there was nothing original about this movie, Warrior was an entertaining, well-made sports drama. Nothing more, and nothing less.