cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Kevin Dunn, Frank Grillo
Well the fights scenes are cool, and the anticipation leading to each garners enough suspense to keep you somewhat locked in. The two main characters: Brendan Conlon, a financially struggling teacher with a wife and two kids, goes back to his old gig as a brawler. And his estranged brother Tommy, a quiet brooding beast who returns to the house of his father, played by Nick Nolte, a reformed alcoholic who will train him for a mixed martial arts tournament that both brothers eventually take part in. While a training montage is usually the most involving in fight flicks – getting to know both fighter and trainer from the inside/out – here it’s a jumbled heap of split-screen boxes that avoids all the blood, sweat, and soul to prepare for the big match in Las Vegas. Which, once underway, is the best part of the film, pitting each brother against various formidable opponents and eventually, each other. The biggest problem exists in what’s not shown. So much is left out of this troubled family’s past that each prolonged conversation about that past (mostly involving their once abusive father, now a sad groaning bear) is a waste of time. The entire movie could have been that inevitable Vegas “showdown,” and it wouldn’t have made any difference. Because here’s where the two leading actors, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, really shine: It’s just too bad the characters don’t mean as much as their fights.