Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve Paragraph Movie Review: Warrior

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

Warrior is a good sports movie that missteps by trying to overreach and become a great film. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, mainly sticking to the Rocky formula underdog story in the beginning, but I like that formula, so I had high hopes. Indeed the basic building of the characters is solid and the fight scenes are superb; it's where they try to force in the family drama of The Fighter or the redemption story of The Wrestler that I think Warrior falters because it's just trying too hard. There is too much juxtaposing of hokey-but-fun sequences right alongside scenes that are supposed to be deadly serious; the former works for the most part, the latter doesn't always. The cast is good for the most part, but the script sticks them on a treadmill a lot of the time. Most of the attention in reviews went to Tom Hardy, who is indeed impressive with his committed habitation of his character, an intense cipher whom he makes terrifying and intriguing, and he clearly worked his ass off to get physically set for the role, but he's stuck playing out the same pissed off speech way too many times. I don't think the continually unraveling layers of mystery of Tommy's military past fit either. I found Joel Edgerton's performance as the underdog family man far more compelling and his story the one I wanted to follow; his scenes with the Conlon brothers' reformed scumbag father--Nick Nolte, doing nice work with what he's given--are probably the best in the movie. Frank Grillo was a standout in a supporting cast of quality character actors as Brendan's quirky but intelligent coach; Jennifer Morrison is a beautiful girl with some talent, but she makes me cringe with her facial expressions and emoting. Bottom line is that there's a good movie buried in Warrior that probably could have been told in about half the time; I'd have liked to have seen them accentuate the positives and go more Rocky IV than Rocky (or The Fighter), making a fun, memorable movie instead of one begging for critical acceptance. I wanted to see more fighting, less family drama. Also, the ending was pretty lousy.


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