If you've ever asked yourself "What would have happened if Noah had decided that instead of gathering two of every type of animal he would collect one of every type of gang?" then have I got the movie for you. The Warriors opens with a prophet named Cyrus assembling a tribal summit to negotiate a peace treaty between all of the different factions in New York City with the aim of turning them into one army under his command. Assembled in the crowd there are white gangs, black gangs, Hispanic gangs, motorcycle gangs, baseball gangs, mime gangs...
Look: I get why this film focuses on the specific gang of the Warriors; they embody all the things we associate with gangs, like toughness, brotherhood, juvenile delinquency, poor anger management. But putting the focus on a stereotypical gang means that at best you're aiming for a solid action flick, whereas if they followed the mime gang (who aren't seen again after the opening summit) they could have plumbed the depth of the human condition. Who decides that they want to form a clique that is going to fight tooth and nail to protect their turf, but they're going to do that while dressed like French clowns? There's something self defeating about the sort of person who would risk their lives as part of an organization that is founded on a traditional conception of masculinity but then pick as their mascot something that is the total opposite of bad-ass. I have to imagine that their decision is driven by a fear of success, probably some intense self loathing, maybe an unhealthy respect for street performers.
I wasn't entirely kidding when I said that their story would get into the depth of the human condition. If that gang was real they would have to have psychological issues that would approach an existential heart of darkness - not unlike Heath Ledger's Joker, who was a clown, but a clown whose existence pointed out how porous the border was between sanity and insanity. Those other gangs might be crazy, but those mimes are fucking loco, yo.
No, this movie is not about that mime gang, it's about the Warriors. And the Warriors are solid protagonists - drawn a little thinly, perhaps, with character traits that don't go much beyond standard youthful bravado - and they move through the simple plot like sharks moving through water. But it is a little frustrating that the details on the edge of the canvas are so much more enticing than what is in the center of the frame. I mean who really wants to hear about Noah (who is nothing more than a dumb run of the mill human) when in the hull of his ark are crazy ass animals like naked mole rats and honey badgers?