Distributed By: Lionsgate
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Dan Millman is a talented gymnast, on his way to competing for a spot on the United States Olympic Team. This is his dream and he has been making incredible strides toward his goal. Trophies line his shelves. Girls line up for the opportunity to be with him. Unfortunately, of late, he has been plagued by dreams – dreams that he doesn’t fully understand, but that all culminate in the same ending, the destruction of his career as a gymnast. Unable to sleep, he finds himself at a local gas station where he meets a gas jockey who achieves an impossible feat of athleticism right before Dan’s eyes.
Finding the man intriguing and begins visiting him nightly, half-heartedly seeking enlightenment, but more interested in attaining that ability as a gymnast that he believes his new acquaintance can bestow upon him. When Dan is stricken by an unforeseeable tragedy, he relies on his new friend, Socrates, and an elusive young woman named Joy to help him overcome insurmountable odds to achieve his lifelong goal. The journey ahead will be tedious and extremely difficult, but the end result will be incredible enlightenment and empowerment beyond Dan’s wildest imagination.
Based on the novel, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, Peaceful Warrior is a work of autobiographical fiction. In other words, some of the biographical details of Dan Millman’s life have been fictionalized in an effort to get certain philosophical points across. This movie is deeply immersed in philosophical views on life. The movie is meant to be inspiring and educational at the same time.
Although I sometimes find philosophy to be a drag, I had decided to watch this film on the advice of a friend. Scott Mechlowicz does an excellent job portraying the up and down emotional rollercoaster that befalls Dan Millman throughout the film. But despite the fact that Mechlowicz portrays the main character of the film, it is co-star Nick Nolte who steals the show. Up until this movie, I have never thought much of Nick Nolte as an actor. In fact, I have managed to ignore most of his movies. However, I truly loved his performance as Socrates, philosophical mentor and one hell of an elusive character.
I even enjoyed the philosophical moments in the film and the basic tenets taught throughout the film, such as clearing your mind of all extraneous thought, accepting change, the fact that all moments have their importance in the grand scheme of things, that there is no greater purpose than service to others, and more. I loved how these things were taught – they weren’t just words that came out of Socrates mouth. They were also expressed visually, so you could draw your own meaning from what you saw.
Unfortunately, I fear that one of the things I enjoyed most will keep people from watching the film, finding the philosophy aspect something that they simply can’t absorb. Well, if this is what is keeping you from seeing Peaceful Warrior, I have an answer for you – ignore the philosophy and watch it for the incredibly uplifting story this movie tells. The amazing accomplishments of Dan Millman in the face of adversity can be your focus. If a bit of the philosophical teachings behind Peaceful Warrior sink in, then you’ll have actually learned something useful while being entertained. So take my advice and rent Peaceful Warrior today – an entertaining film with a philosophy lesson added in – what more could you ask for?