FAMILY IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.
Estranged brothers Brendan and Tommy Conlon (Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy) compete in a mixed martial arts tournament, one of them trained by their dad (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic. Miracle (2004) director Gavin O’Connor has a knack for making formulaic sports movies work surprisingly well; bringing a lot of energy and raw emotion to his simple stories, he also has an eye for picking the right cast. This testosterone fest is no exception, although it is a little reminiscent of his last movie, Pride and Glory (2008). He makes the MMA bouts almost physically painful for us to watch. Very emotional stuff, anchored by superior performances by the three leads.
2011-U.S. 140 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Gavin O’Connor, Greg O’Connor. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. Screenplay: Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman. Cast: Joel Edgerton (Brendan Conlon), Tom Hardy (Tommy Conlon), Nick Nolte (Paddy Conlon), Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Denzel Whitaker… Kevin Dunn.
Last word: “I work-shopped all the scenes. We didn’t just write it, and then go shoot it. We work-shopped everything, so we were constantly questioning, deepening, and getting to the emotional truth of every scene. If anything ever felt flimsy, we’d put a microscope on it. Getting these two brothers in the cage at the end is a tall order, with making it believable and convincing. From the beginning, the DNA had to be grounded in honesty and truth, so by the end, you’re immersed and believe it.” (O’Connor, Film School Rejects)