Tommy (Hardy) suddenly returns home to his father Paddy (Nolte) and asks him to be his trainer again to take part in a mixed martial arts competition. But his brother Brendan (Edgerton) who he has not seen for years is also taking part, despite being a physics teacher.
A lot of mystery surrounds the characters as the film has started and we slowly have to piece together why they have not had contact for years. Although Paddy being an alcoholic is pretty simple to see that it tore them all apart years ago. No love seems to be lost between them all though.
We slowly see that Tommy had been in the marines and had served in Iraq. That being his motivation for wanting to win the MMA competition to give the money to his brother in arms’ wife and child that was left behind. While his brother a physic teacher was struggling to pay the bills and close to losing his house. This was his motivation, keeping his family in their home.
I found the film to be rather slow at times, but can understand that it did need to be for parts of the story. But I think I was expecting slightly more training and showing the fights in the cage. The parts it did show were very good and I would have liked to see so much more.
At the core of the fighting side of the film was a torn apart family which you could not help but wonder if they would reconcile in the end.
The subject of alcoholism for the father was rather hard-hitting. As at one point you could actually not help but feel sorry for him (well I couldn’t help it). Not seeing what trauma he had actually caused his two sons over the years and when they were growing up. But Nolte really did manage to take on the role in such a fantastic way. Having the audience really think about how we felt about him. Pity was probably the other thing we would have felt for him. He seemed to be trying but it was all too little too late.
Overall, I didn’t think this film was as good as I expected it to be after the very positive reviews and words it had around it. The trailer now on TV saying it’s the best film of the year – I really don’t agree with that at all. Maybe I was expecting too much from this film.