There are many things I’m still not over when it comes to the 2011 film Warrior. I’m still not over how freaking good Tom Hardy was. I’m still not over how it did not receive the amount of praise it deserved. I’m still not over the fact that there’s a large number of people who have no idea what film I’m talking about right now. But most of all, I’m still not over the ending of the film.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, I just checked, and it’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse. But here’s what you’ll be getting in to: Warrior is the story of a broken family. Brothers Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) grew up with an abusive alcoholic father, played by Nick Nolte. At a young age, they were separated by their mother’s decision to leave. Younger brother Tommy went with her just as they planned, but when Brendan decided to stay, not out of love for his father but rather out of love for his girlfriend (who would later become his wife), Tommy viewed Brendan’s decision as a betrayal. And after their mother then became sick and passed away, Tommy was left to grow up on his own.
The movie picks up years later, with Brendan teaching high school physics and struggling to pay his daughter’s medical bills. When the bank threatens to foreclose on his home, he decides to tap into his MMA fighting background — both boys fought when they were young. Brendan begins training for an upcoming tournament with a cash prize. Meanwhile, Tommy also signs up for the tournament. Now an Iraq-war veteran, Tommy wants to win the money in order to help out the family of his best friend, a soldier who died in battle.
After years apart, Tommy turns to his now-sober father for coaching, and he quickly establishes himself as the fighter to beat. Brendan, on the other hand, is older and clearly the underdog of the tournament. He barely survives each fight while Tommy’s busy knocking out opponents with single punches. But when the championship comes down to a fight between the brothers, their entire relationship is put on a very public stage.
The fight starts out with Tommy in the lead. He goes after his brother with years of pent-up rage propelling each punch. But when Brendan dislocates Tommy’s shoulder, the fight becomes less physical, and much more emotional. Watching Tommy transition from tough guy to baby brother is absolutely heartbreaking. The moment after he dislocates he shoulder, you expect the fight to be over, but he refuses to give up. When Tommy puts up his one fist and attempts to keep fighting? Yep, that’s when my tear ducts activate. And in the end, what makes Tommy give in isn’t physical pain. It’s hearing his older brother apologize and tell him he loves him. Just like that, the tough guy facade shatters once and for all.
At this point, I’m hysterical … but the scene still isn’t over! After the fight, for the first time since they were kids, Brendan resumes his role as Tommy’s older brother. Brendan has just won the money he’s been risking his life for, and he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t celebrate with his trainer. He pushes the press away. Instead, his first move is to pick up his younger brother and hold him as they walk out of the ring, the way he probably should have held him all those years ago. They’re finally walking the same path, and this time, their father watches as both of his sons go.
The story is beautiful, the camera work is perfect, and the acting will take your breath away. That close up on Hardy’s face against the fence is one of my favorite shots … ever. If you’re not a fan of Hardy and/or Edgerton, you haven’t seen this film. Watch the scene below:
Needless to say, I went into what I thought was a movie about MMA and walked out with tear-stained cheeks. I actually made my friend sit all the way through the credits just so I could gather myself before going out in public, and I still hadn’t found my composure by the time we left the theater.
It’s a great ending to one of my all-time favorite films, even though you should never watch it while sitting next to me, because the sound of my sobs will probably ruin the moment.