When I decided to check out the sneak preview of the MMA movie Warrior, I thought that the ads for the film told me everything I wanted to know: two brothers wind up facing off in an MMA tournament with five million bucks on the line. The "good" brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), is a teacher with financial problems with a wife and kids to support. The "bad" brother, Tommy (Tom Hardy), has returned from the Iraq war, and reunited with his alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) who trained him as a youth.
Notice I said "good" and "bad" with quotations because as you get to know these guys, you know they both made mistakes in life. They'd like to forgive, but the bitterness is so strong. Anyway, we see Tommy and Brendan on their road to the tournament, known as Sparta. Other rivals stand in their way, including a Russian who looks unbeatable...and he's played by pro wrestler Kurt Angle. Doesn't have any lines, but he sure looks intimidating.
What I like about the story is that they keep Tommy and Brendan apart as long as possible. The story's about their individual roads to the Sparta finals, and what motivates them. For Brendan. it's keeping a roof over his head. For Tommy, it's helping a widow of an Army buddy.
Then, we find out Tommy actually saved some lives in Iraq, but he doesn't want to talk about it. There's a tragic reason why.
I loved Tom Hardy as Tommy. the haunted brother. He's trying to pull his life together, and appreciates the help his dad provides. Still, he has secrets and bitterness that can ruin his progress. Joel Edgerton was also great as Branden, the family man who made mistakes with his own family.
There is the traditional training montage, but at least it's updated with split-screen action--but not with some cheesy Eddie Rabbitt song. It's also interesting how other people get caught up in Tommy and Brendan's stories, and we see those fans cheer their favorite warriors on. The ending is a bit cheesy, but it leaves you wanting just a bit more about how the final result will affect both brothers and the dad.
The producers of Warrior played it smart by having a sneak preview during the Labor Day weekend. This should get more people to the theaters just before the NFL starts its season, and even more may check it out after we see ads for this film in between touchdown drives.
As for the trailers, they're still showing those trailers for Abduction and (ugh) Breaking Dawn. However, I am interesting in Drive because it has ALBERT BROOKS as a gangster. Ryan Gosling and Christina (yowza!!) Hendricks are two good reasons, too.