Tommy Riordan(Tom Hardy) turns up at his father' home in Pittsburgh after several years. His father Paddy Conlon(Nick Nolte) lives alone after deserting his family years back. Tommy remembers his father as a drunkard who was very cruel to his family. Paddy is no more an alcoholic addict and has turned to religion for solace. But Tommy has not forgiven his dad yet. He learns about his older brother Brendan Conlon(Joel Edgerton) living in Philadelphia with his and two daughters. Brendan has also severed all ties with Paddy.
At local gym in Pittsburgh, Tommy knocks out a famous fighter during a warm up bout. This catches the attention of the gym owner who wants to act as Tommy's agent. Tommy agrees and asks Paddy to train him. Sensing an opportunity to heal the wounds in their relationship, Paddy takes up this offer. But Tommy wants to keep this strictly business. A disappointed Paddy orders his son to quit his drug habits and puts him on a strict diet.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Brendan is working as a physics teacher. He is popular among the students. He and his wife Tess work multiple jobs to pay their home loan. Recently, their daughter was diagnosed for heart disease which put them in a tight financial situation. When he learns about the impending foreclosure from the bank, Brendan fights in a local bar to raise money. This event leads to his suspension from the school. He decides to take up fighting seriously and requests his old friend Frank to train him.
Soon, a tournament named "Sparta" is announced where a limited number fighters will fight each other over 3 days at Atlantic City for a prize money of 5 million dollars. Destiny directs both brothers on a collision path. The rest of the story tells us what drove the brothers apart and why Tommy needs the money too. Does Brendan have a chance when pitted against big names? Will the brothers be able to forgive Paddy and each other?
Gavin O'Connor directs this beautiful drama about a torn family. He uses action as the backdrop but the focus is on emotions. The strength of the movie rests in the performances of the three main protagonists. The major part of the movie builds on the tensions among the family members towards each other, culminating in the tournament. When the movie inches towards the climax, the audience are hooked and are waiting for the final fight to happen.
Joel Edgerton as Brendon Conlon shines in the movie as the underdog. Brendan wants the best for his family. Haunted by the memories of his violent father, he constantly struggles for providing the best for his family. Joel displays the helplessness, frustration and desperation effectively. Tom Hardy as Tommy Riordan despises his family members. He is aloof and unemotional. This characteristics works well to build the drama when he meets his brother in Atlantic City and also in the fight sequences. Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon tries hard to bring his broken family together. At every stage, he is met with rejection. Nick gives a subdued performance so as not to steal the thunder from the characters portraying his kids. Yet, he leaves a lasting impression.
This is recommended.