Release Date: October 27
Warrior is a film with one question to ask: what does forgiveness cost? And the answer is much closer to the Christian faith than most viewers would expect.
Warrior is the story of two brothers and their close association with martial sports.
Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy play men who chose opposite parents in the bitter break-up of a family. Brendan Conlon (Edgerton) stayed with his drunken father, hoping he would receive the encouragement he longed for.
Tommy Conlon (Hardy) left with his abused mother, only to watch her die in poverty. More than a decade later Tommy returns home from a stint in the marines. He sets about working his way into a mixed martial arts tournament to help the wife of a deceased comrade. Meantime Brendan has becomes a physics teacher struggling to keep his family in their home after life-saving surgery for his baby daughter. When the bank threatens to foreclose, Brendon sets his sites on the same tournament Tommy has entered, setting the scene for a clash of hopes and a personal confrontation.
It’s hard not to measure Warrior against The Fighter given the ringside setting and the brothers who fill the foreground. Sadly, this latest release suffers from the comparison with a much slower pace and a slightly too predictable plot. The focus on mixed martial arts (the current American obsession) over boxing isn’t enough to set it apart and writer / director Gavin O’Connor’s decision to go with close-ups for the action scenes emphasises the impacts but makes it hard to follow what’s going on. However Warrior wins over The Fighter in tackling a spiritual topic less familiar to fight films.
Nick Nolte plays Brendan and Tommy’s father, a reformed drunk responsible for the ruin of his family. He has spent close to three years sober and is in the process of reforming his life. A pill-popping Tommy laughs in his face when he discovers that journey has led his dad to God:
“So you found God, huh? That’s awesome. Mum kept calling for him but it didn’t do any good. Guess Jesus was down the mill forgiving all the drunks. She spent her time coughing up blood while I was rubbing her down with holy water because she didn’t have insurance. So much for your pal Jesus. I’m glad you’re sorry dad, that’s great. I think I liked you better as a drunk.”
Warrior shows how hard forgiveness can be for those who are still suffering from the sins of others. What will it take for characters to let go of the pain that is imprisoning them as much as the people they have learned to hate? In Warrior’s case it seems the embittered Tommy has to come to the position where he can see that the people he’s holding out on are as broken as he is. This is the Christian attitude to forgiveness in one knockout punch: how can we hold back mercy from others when we’re so desperately in need of it ourselves?