Warrior: There's Not Enough Nick Nolte in This Wrestling Melodrama

You know those Affliction shirts, covered in skulls, gothic lettering, and tribal patterns, all cacophonous symbols of badass machismo? That's what the Mixed Martial Arts tie-in movie Warrior is—an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink fire sale of male-weepie tropes, awesome in its thoroughness. The collective dream of authentic blue-collar American grubbiness lives on in a Pittsburgh row house, where long-estranged son Tommy (Tom Hardy), just back from a tour with the Marines, visits his recovering alcoholic dad Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte). Tommy can't forgive the old man for breaking up the family, but needs a trainer for his nascent MMA career. In Philadelphia, Tommy's older brother Brendon (Joel Edgerton), a physics teacher and family man who has likewise broken ties with his past, gets back in the fighter's octagon to keep the bank from repossessing his house. The announcement of a tournament-style championship contest sets the brothers on a collision course to a family reunion in the cage. Old line-gargler Nolte remains an effortlessly moving presence, while Hardy and Edgerton embody their archetypes and handle the physical demands. With a silverback strut and the neck of a '30s-mural prole, Hardy does Method brooding, while Edgerton underplays with integrity in a film whose last hour piles climax atop climax, holding the audience in an emotional arm bar.

 
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