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John Hillcoat ('The Road') directs this crime thriller set in rural Virginia in the early 1930s, adapted by musician-screenwriter Nick Cave from the biographical novel by Matt Bondurant, the grandson of one of the main characters. Brothers Jack and Forrest Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy) set up as bootleggers, but soon find themselves under threat from the authorities who want a cut of their profits in the form of 'security money'. A vicious turf war ensues as the brothers fight tooth and nail to retain their hard-won livelihood. The supporting cast includes Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Noah Taylor and Jessica Chastain.
There's an awful lot to like about Lawless. In front of the camera, it boasts a far stronger than you might expect leading performance from Shia LaBeouf, for instance. Playing alongside him is the screen-dominating Tom Hardy, taking the role of his brother. They're two of the three Bondurant brothers, living out in Virginia during the time of prohibition, and trying to keep a supply of alcohol running. This means there's also room for Gary Oldman's brief appearance as a mobster you wouldn't want to mess with, and Guy Pearce's scene-stealing federal agent.
It's a bit of a muddled film at times in truth, but Lawless, at its best, is gripping entertainment. Stylishly put together by director John Hillcoat, whose earlier The Proposition is an excellent companion piece, Lawless also boasts excellent music from Nick Cave. Cave also penned the screenplay.
Interspersed with excellent acting, humour and sudden violence, Lawless is very much worth a watch. The disc's package of extras doesn't make as much of the source material as you'd hope, though. It's a decent selection that you get, it's just there's room for a far more forensic look at the period, and the particular characters that inspired the film.
Still, it's a strong movie, that overcomes a few problems to more than justify the investment in it. Recommended, and do check out The Proposition if you've not seen it, too. --Jon Foster
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Top Customer Reviews
Quickly establishing the outlaws as heroes and lawmen as villains "Lawless" occupies a middle ground between mainstream gangster action and art house drama. When the inevitable violence comes it's quick and suitably horrific. Characters are tarred and feathered, there's a graphic throat slitting and a particularly nasty beating dished out by Rakes to Jack. Yet this is not a gratuitously violent picture and as vicious as Forrest and Howard (a shell-shocked, often drunken war veteran who operates largely as additional muscle) can be to protect their livelihood there is never any question of which side we're rooting for. Sleazy, cruel and foppish almost to the point of caricature Rakes is a pantomime but effective movie villain through and through.Read more ›
The acting is top-notch from everyone involved, with Guy Pearce giving a sterling performance as a particularly nasty and creepy bad guy. Surprising, Shia LeBeouf put in a good performance too.
The scenery is stunning and the film is shot beautifully. The props, costumes and setting all do a great job of making you believe you're back in that era.
The violence is sparse but shocking when it happens. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, the ending was a slight disappointment but real life is rarely as dramatic as cinema... Although it still managed to come close.
Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, and a bootlegging gang of brothers is threatened by a sadistic new special deputy who will stop at nothing to smash their operation.
The directing and writing team behind 2005's excellent Aussie Western, The Proposition, gather again to produce this bloody tale of the real life Bondurant brothers who stood up and fought the law on their own terms. If that sounds like a call for us to side with the good ol' bad boys and their right to fight the bad copper guys, then it is. If you can get past that deliberately grey area, and why wouldn't you in this part of the entertainment medium? Then there is a mighty fine time to be had here.
What unravels is a intense character based story that is cloaked with sumptuous period flavours, and by turns it's violent, darkly funny and beating a true emotional heart. It's also exquisitely photographed (Georgia standing in for Virginia) and performed by the cast (Hardy and Pearce simply wonderful), while Cave's music score has the requisite blend of Moonshine Hillbilly twangs with Achy Breaky thrums. The girls (Chastain and Wasikowska) are a touch under written, but in a film primarily about three brothers flexing their muscles and sticking their chests out, it's a forgivable flaw. Oldman fans, however, should note that his role in the film, as gangster Floyd Banner, is nothing more than a trio of cameo appearances.Read more ›
Transformers star Shia Labour, British actor Tom Hardy and Australian Jason Clarke and these make up Bondurant brothers, who are moonshiners in Franklin County trying to protect their booming illegal `still' operation from a less, than what appears to be, a puritanical clampdown fronted by a Special Deputy named Rakes, a part played with a memorable fury and pristine dandy like Guy Pearce, I might add his acting steals the film.
There are spurts of blood, gangsters and corrupt cops; Lawless does not quite hit the mark and succeed at building convincing portraits of its characters, within the narrative.
The art department have made a convincing period mocking and have added heaps of battered vintage signage and other pieces which add to the colour and smells of the prohibition days. The official sound track is done rather well and is laden with folksy bluegrass songs; please see my separate review of the OST.
Lawless does take its time to the `meat of the movie', after an hour or so, when Jack Bondurant ( played by Shia Lebeouf's ) starts selling liquor to gangster Floyd Banner (played by Gary Oldman, his role is brief) With the beginning of this new partnership the law, both local and state, squeezes in on the brothers.
The film is violent, and the images linger: you will see a man tarred and feathered and dumped on the porch; Tom Hardy's throat being slit from ear to ear; a women who you see at the beginning, of what is implied is going to be a brutal rape, Floyd Banner hitting Noah Taylor with a spade; and by far the worse for me was Pearce sneering in disgust as he gets blood on his lilac leather gloves after bashing Shia Lebeouf's face, who is begging for mercy. The women in this narrative are either victims, gullible or happy house wives. Although On the whole I enjoyed the movie, however, I can see why there maybe detractors.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well acted film, shows how the law wasn't always lawful in those times.Published 11 days ago by Rilla7
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