Film Festival Today

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Film Review: “Warrior”

Written by: FFT Webmaster | September 6th, 2011

O’Connor has established Hardy as a star and successor to a young, intense Marlon Brando. Hardy gives so much emotion and commitment to every character he plays, that he is a dazzling revelation.

I first noticed Tom Hardy in ROCKnROLLA (2008) and then his brilliant, transformational starring role in BRONSON (2008). Hardy put on approximately 42 pounds of muscle in order to play BRONSON. And there was plenty of full frontal nudity, a shaved head and a bushy moustache.

Yes, Hardy made an impression in INCEPTION but Joseph Gordon-Levitt had that amazing fight scene in the hotel corridor that was one of the film’s highlights. Hardy did have a memorable line of dialogue: “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

With several other films lined up for release, we are all waiting for Hardy to re-imagine the iconic role of Mad Max in George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, with Charlize Theron co-starring. (Photo: Hardy as Bronson)

So I was amazed that Hardy went through another grueling bulking up regimen to play a mixed martial arts fighter in WARRIOR after trimming down for INCEPTION. Here is what his trainer, Pnut, has said about building Hardy’s massive, beautifully sculptured body for WARRIOR.

Pnut has a simple but unorthodox method for bulking up fast. “I call my philosophy ‘signalling’,” he says. “Throughout the day you need to send constant signals to your body, so that it adapts in the direction you point it in. It’s better to do 10 press-ups every hour than 100 in a single burst. If you do things often enough, your body adapts for the task you set it, and you evolve.”

Pnut recommends performing these exercises four times a day – when you wake up, at lunchtime, when you get home from work and before bed. If you want to pile on muscle as soon as possible, you’re going to have to get used to working out little but often. “Remember,” says Pnut, “there are no shortcuts.”*

Tommy Conlon (Hardy) suddenly turns up in working-class Pittsburgh after a fourteen-year estrangement from his father Paddy (Nick Nolte) and older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton).  A former Marine, Tommy is a broken, haunted man. Whatever the details, Tommy’s relationship with his father was destroyed when he abandoned his family. Tommy was left to deal with his mother’s lonely, agonizing death. Yet, the alcoholic, mean Paddy was Tommy’s wrestling coach when he was a youngster. Tommy now wants Paddy to help his train for SPARTA, a winner-takes-all mixed martial arts championship with a purse of five million dollars.

Yet Tommy doesn’t look like a man much interested in money.

Brendan (Edgerton) took another path. Also estranged from his father, he has a wife (Jennifer Morrison) and two young girls, one with severe, expensive medical problems and a looming home foreclosure. He’s a high school teacher who, for additional income, fights in roadside matches. When he takes a brutal beating and it lands on YouTude, he is suspended from his teaching job. The only recourse is to train for SPARTA.

We slowly learn that Tommy has a good reason for wanting the five million dollar purse; but frankly, we must be on Brendan’s side since he will be fighting for his child’s life.

Tommy is a vicious, unstoppable fighter. Guess what happens?

I was hoping for another outcome – I like to mentally write the third act to a movie – but it went on the predictable path. Not that my resolution was better. This is the MMA’s ROCKY – but done in a more authentic way.

Hardy looks like a real fighter and he’s a driven machine. The matches were tough to watch. Yet we are told that the rules of mixed martial arts gives Brendan a chance. I learned that a fighter may admit defeat during a match by a tap on the opponent’s body, a tap on the mat or floor, or a verbal announcement.

MMA fans will love that Kurt Angle, a 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winner in the 220lbs weight category and first ever wrestler to hold the WCW and WWF World Championships during the same calendar year, and has held WWF, Intercontinental, European and Hardcore championships all on separate occasions, plays Koba, the fierce Russian champion that looks invincible. While Tommy is paired with other fighters, it’s Brendan that must face Koba.

I also liked Frank Grillo, who plays Brendan’s friend and coach, Frank Campana. He’s got a great, interesting face and strong cinematic personality. Nolte will surely be remembered for Best Supporting Actor awards – he looked like a recovering alcoholic with a bloated face and red nose. He clearly telegraphed a broken man.

WARRIOR was directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, and Cliff Dorfman with the story credited to O’Connor and Dorfman. It’s long at 2 hours and 19 minutes, but gives Hardy and Edgerton plenty of time to develop their characters.

O’Connor has established Hardy as a star and the successor to a young, intense Marlon Brando. Hardy gives so much emotion and commitment to every character he plays. In WARRIOR, he is a dazzling revelation.

*But what I really love about Tom Hardy is his previous bisexual revelation – “I’m an actor for *beep’s* sake. I’m an artist.” You know this comment made Hollywood’s closeted movie stars ecstatic and his agents hysterical. In 2008, Hardy appeared on the cover of Attitude and talked about playing a gay gangster in the Guy Ritchie film, ROCKnROLLA. Here’s the exchange:

It’s such a tradition of London gangsters, the gay thing, what with the Krays…

I wouldn’t like to say. I really wouldn’t. It’s an unsaid, un-talked about thing. The military get it as well. Sexual relations with men in situations where it’s a necessity, like prison, are different from being homosexual.

Have you ever had any sexual relations with men?

As a boy? Of course I have. I’m an actor for *beep*’s sake. I’m an artist. I’ve played with everything and everyone. But I’m not into men sexually. I love the form and the physicality but the gay sex bit does nothing for me. In the same way as a wet vagina would turn someone else into a lemon-sucking freak. To me it just doesn’t compute now I’m into my 30s and it doesn’t do it for me and I’m done experimenting.

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