Why do we do the things we do? What makes us passionate enough to overcome adversities? Truthfully that’s a question in which the answer is probably different for everyone who would ask that of themselves. But when times are tough either emotionally, financially, or in any other way, many of us get the courage and passion that can drive us to become better then we currently are. Essentially, we become our own warrior.
The film begins with Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) returning home from overseas in the military to his ex-alcoholic father, Paddy (Nick Nolte). A new international tournament for mixed martial arts fighting called â€œSpartaâ€ has been set up to bring the best MMA fighters in the world to compete in a winner take all battle. Tommy enlists the help of his father who used to be a fighter as well.
Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is currently a school teacher but in a dire financial situation and it could potentially affect his family. So he enlists the help of a UFC trainer to get him back into shape so that he can win the $5 million purse for his family.
The film is a struggle of an estranged family. Paddy is battling the resentment of his two sons for the way he treated them when they were young and he was an alcoholic. Brendan is battling his financial woes so that he can support his family. And Tommy is fighting to make up for a past mistake that tearing himself up emotionally within himself.
On the surface this is a compelling drama. It’s only enhanced at the end with some amazing MMA fighting sequences. This is no â€œboxingâ€ movie. This combines boxing with kicking, with wrestling. I definitely give the director, Gavin O’Connor a lot of credit at the end of the movie for the fantastic fight sequences. What I will be critical of him for is that after the opening act in the film, it got a bit too slow paced for me. I found myself lacking interest in the film and wishing that it was trimmed by around 30 minutes in length.
I did enjoy the actors’ performances. I’ve heard a lot of buzz around Nick Nolte’s performance and I did find it extremely good and very compelling. Tom Hardy does a good job as does Joel Edgerton, two relatively unknown actors.
Surprisingly, I found that most women seemed to enjoy this movie even more than the men in the audience. And while I’m sure you’ll hear many tell you that it’s because they were fighting without any shirts on, I think it was more the fight sequences themselves.
I did enjoy this film but feel like I â€œmissedâ€ what everyone else in the theater thought that they saw. It was good, but in no way great. The acting was very good, but besides Nolte’s performances no where near Oscar worthy in my opinion. But with all of the films out this weekend, I would say it’s a safe bet that you’ll walk away from this one enjoying the end of the film. It is a little slow during the middle part of the film and needs to be shortened, but the payoff at the end is worth it.
FINAL GRADE: B â€“
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres