Ex-marine Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) travels home to Philadelphia. His first and only stop is to visit his alcoholic father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), who was an ex-boxer. Putting aside his anger towards Paddy for his misfortunate childhood upbringing, Tommy asks him to help him train for the mixed martial arts competition where the winner gets five million dollars. Meanwhile, Tommy’s older brother, Brendon (Joel Edgerton)-who shares the same anger and pain towards Paddy-is struggling with keeping his house and providing for his wife and two children on a teacher’s salary. Trying to earn extra money on the side, Brendon competes in low level fighting rings but gets suspension when the school board finds out. With free time on his hands and overdue bills piling up, Brendon finds out about the MMA competition and hires an old friend, Frank Campana (Frank Grillo), to train him. With both brothers competing, will either make it all the way? Will they have to fight each other? Will they forgive their father?

 

Review:

 

            So, I thought it was an okay watch but has some setbacks. First, the beginning and middle portions of the movie had too many long drawn out scenes. It took too long for the plot to unfold. It took too long for me to feel emotionally connected to the three main characters. Sure, I will admit Hardy and Nolte played really good roles but it just took too long for their points to come across to the audience. Also, I understand that the sons have resentment towards their father for his alcoholic-rage outbursts and violence when they were children but they kept going over and over that same thing. It’s like, okay, I get it, father was horrible and the sons have a right to be upset, move on. During my viewing, I couldn’t help comparing it to the movie Fighter (which is an awesome film, by the way) and how I would rather watch that instead. I’m not saying that this movie is not good; it is okay but with dull spots. Although, I will say this, I have never watched a guy sports type of film that kept making me want to cry; usually that is reserved for chick flicks. I mean at least four times, there were sentimental moments when Paddy tried desperately to be in his sons’ life but they would reject him with hurtful words and resentment flashbacks. Then in the end when a break though happens (I do not want to give it away) and the characters are crying and I’m a mental mess at this point. This film is not all about the fighting and competing but about the struggling relationship between Paddy, Tommy and Brendon. What really has me turning sideways is during those fight scenes. There were some nice MMA combinations performed, only when I could see them. I absolutely hate it when fight scenes in movies cover up the hand to body contact. Whenever Brendon started pounding on his opponent on the floor, the camera would angle down towards the audience blocking the shot of the blows. This is a major distraction and reminds me that this is just another movie; meaning it takes me out of the moment. Unlike Fighter, where I saw every single punch given and taken; it seemed so real. I did, however, like Hardy’s character. He was just so angry, at everyone! Even in the ring when he fought, one punch of anger and lights out for his opponent. His character was also so mysterious that I wanted to know the full story of why he is so mad and the movie only would give bits and pieces throughout until the end when I finally knew everything. Nolte played his role very well. I liked his desperate need to be forgiven and wanting to start new with his sons even though they did not. Both of these characters’ roles are memorable and should be acknowledged when viewing. All in all, I will not see this film again. Rating: three stars.