Shepherded into existence by a company actually called “Family Productions,” A Warrior’s Heart depicts the pesky grieving process of a slack-jawed lacrosse player. Opening in pre-Colonial times, Michael F. Sears’ film quickly catches up with Connor Sullivan (Kellan Lutz), a blond, bland rent-a-hunk whose Iraq colonel dad (Chris Potter) urges him to ply his trade at a prestigious academy, where they play “real lacrosse.” After Pop is killed in battle, Connor flips out, or as much as an actor who can manage one facial expression can muster.
His inability to just get over it, paired with his expert ability at smashing trophy displays, gets him booted from the team. Luckily, he falls into the hands of Duke (Adam Beach), a smirking marine who whisks him off to a forest (or “kidnaps” him) for some tough love training on how to be a man, how to both symbolically and literally break through walls and how to withstand inhumane amounts of Successories slogans. “Temper is good. It’s how you use it that works,” Duke informs him, when he’s not calling him “sweet pea” or, showcasing his mastery of 2001 lingo, “home slice.”
Occasionally the job of dispensing cliches is taken over by the so-named “Brooklyn” (Ashley Greene), Connor’s love interest and the daughter of his former coach (William Mapother). Seems coach likes to spy on his daughter as she engages in PG-rated mating with Connor then tells her “it’s not spying, it’s parenting” when it really is simply spying. Brooklyn spends the majority of the film off-screen—despite the heavily advertised reunion of Green with Lutz, her co-star in some obscure franchise about hymen-breaking vampires and infant-loving lycanthropes—which means she clogs the narration track about how “it’s hard to say if warriors are born or whether they’re made by circumstances.” Sometimes she helpfully turns her attention to those “who stand up after they’re knocked down.”
Connor puts these lessons to practice where it matters: in the mighty game of lacrosse, a sport rarely depicted on-screen for reasons that become immediately apparent. Credit is due for delaying the requisite God-talk till the final minutes, but it’s likely only those who’ve never heard of irony as well as tragically sober film critics will ever get that far.