For this family, it takes a little less conversation and a little more action to connect if for only a moment.
Two brothers must fight against each other in a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament in efforts to better their lives.
Brendan Conlon (Edgerton) is a high school physics teacher wrestling financial hardships and sees the MMA prize money as a way to keep his family under one roof. Tommy Conlon (Hardy) is a former Marine trying to forget his war crimes as well as his childhood under his father, Paddy Conlon (Nolte), in whom he seeks to train him and nothing more.
It’s a film that focuses more on the strained relationship between two brothers and the even greater struggle between two sons and their father rather than the competition. Between training and individual fighting matches, small arguments between either brother or father and son draw us closer to the actual cause of their separation.
Nolte makes us feel pity for a man that we shouldn’t feel bad for given past circumstances as described by both of his sons. Neither son shows cause to accept his persistent apologies, yet it still aches to see a man as quiet and desperate remain unpardoned.
As Tommy, Hardy performs exceptionally saying very little through the bulk of the film. His use of body language says a lot about the stubborn, damaged character he portrays. Ironically, it is his character for which we feel less pity; Tommy sees no reason to forgive his father or his brother. His interactions with either party are very cold and unkind. Hardy, without a doubt, disappears into this detached man.
It’s hard to see children refuse to reconnect to their family after many years, but it’s that very feeling of irresolution that will make one root even more for a triumphant ending for both brothers.
Jim’s Rating: 9.8/10