Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton star in this film about two estranged brothers who find themselves on a collision course at a UFC championship.
Brendon (Edgerton) is the brother who has made the most of himself. He has a loving family, a steady job and he’s managed to escape the torments of the past. However, due to medical bills he is in financial difficulties and has to enter the cage once again. Tommy (Hardy) is a troubled man who pushes away everything in his life, and their father Paddy (Nolte) is desperately clinging onto a hope that one day he’ll be reunited with his sons.
This film was amazing. I really enjoyed it. It was intense, gripping and brutal. All the performances were outstanding and there’s nothing really bad that I can say. I loved how their stories contrasted each other. Both brothers found other families, and both suffered their own sorts of tragedies but where Brendon was able to feel the love and support of his, Tommy felt angry and kept trying to isolate himself. It was a masterstroke of the film that going into the tournament they were both sympathetic characters and I almost felt bad for rooting for one over the other.
I also liked the contrast of how Tommy was this unknown fighter who just came in and brutally beat down seasoned professionals, and Brendon was the underdog out of all of the fighters even though he had been in the cage before. The brothers don’t actually meet until a long way into the film but their interactions are emotionally charged and the finale is powerful and gut-wrenching at the same time. The saddest part of the film is Paddy’s journey as he tries his best to repair the damage he’s caused, but at times you seen the meanness and the callous behaviour crack through the calm facade, and you start to realise just how Tommy and Brendon turned out the way they did.
I’m a big fan of Jennifer Morrison from Once Upon a Time so I was pleased to see her in this film, and I thought she gave a strong performance that was a good counterpoint to the testosterone-filled screen. There was a fair amount of comic relief as well, which helped break up the grueling nature of the film so I didn’t feel drained by all of the emotional devastation. The fight scenes were brutal and well-choreographed and sometimes in these films you can tell who is going to win due to the constraints of the narrative, but here I thought it could go either way and there was still a lot of tension built up through-out the film, making for a very cathartic climax.
All the three main characters in the film were warriors in their own way. Paddy was fighting for forgiveness, Tommy was fighting for a way to try and forget the pain and Brendon was fighting for his family. These three narratives lead to a compelling story that results in an amazing film.