What does it mean to be a hero? What do you fight for? How hard is it to overcome one’s demons? And how do you trust someone again when they hurt you so deeply?
These are among the questions that arise while watching “Warrior,” a Lionsgate motion picture released last week (Sept. 9) nationwide. The film opened to solid critical acclaim, pulling in $5.6 million during its debut weekend. “The New York Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Empire all rated the movie a 90 out of 100 according to Metacritic.com,” according to a story posted on MMA Weekly’s Web site. As of Saturday night (Sept. 18) , the mixed-martial-arts drama took in an estimated $9.9 million at the box office.
The movie opens up debate about love and loyalty and commitment. It features a literal and metaphorical battle between two brothers who wrestle with their own hurts, haunts. Their father, portrayed by longtime actor Nick Nolte, also battles his own demons as he reconciles his relationship with the young men. The backdrop is the immensely popular sport of mixed-martial arts, but it’s not a flick just for those interested in grappling, takedown techniques and a well-timed arm bar (a type of armlock that often ends a fight by submission). There’s a love story, action and plenty of drama due to the intertwined stories of courage and faith and hope. And the current economy downturn has a supporting role, motivating some of the actions of one son, played by Joel Edgerton, a teacher who moonlights to try to make ends meet.
One son, played by Tom Hardy, is an Iraq War veteran struggling with being separated from his family as well as his actions involving fallen comrades during a siege. He wrestles with the act of bravery and what it means to be called a hero. (Review by Movie Mom blogger Nell Minow)
In an interview with the Washington Post, director Gavin O’Connor said he had Nolte for the role of Paddy Conlon, a recovering alcoholic boxer. O’Connor, who also wrote the story and produced the film, said he has been friends with the two-time Academy Award nominee and knew some of his vulnerabilities and anticipated that he would best effectively portray the character’s difficult journey in conquering addiction and turning around his wayward life after turning to God and resolving to change his life.
O’Connor, a New York native, is currently writing “Once Upon A Time In New York,” an adventure story about a princess and a runaway mute boy who travel back in time and he also co-wrote a comedy-drama called “Sunny & 68,” which is in development and he is adapting the 1961 acclaimed film “The Hustler” into a Broadway stage play. O’Connor made his screenwriting debut with “The Bet,” an award-winning short film that also marked the late director/producer Ted Demme’s film directorial debut. O’Connor also wrote and directed the short film “American Standoff” and directed the mother-daughter road drama “Tumbleweeds,” an independent feature that brought O’Connor the Filmmaker’s Award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival before earning widespread critical acclaim. And his screenwriting and directorial work also include “Miracle” and the 2008 police drama “Pride and Glory” starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight.
While some screenings involved churches and ministries (Bible study guide provided by Lionsgate), the intended audience stretches beyond the pews due to its various themes – such as love, forgiveness, sibling rivalry, friendship and repentance - that the director feels resonates with many individuals regardless of their religious backgrounds, with appeal across generations and genders as well as socioeconomic backgrounds.