16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Lawless nearly gets 5 stars from me. Based on true events, it tells the story of the Bondurant brothers - Jack, Howard and Forrest; a family of notorious bootleggers during the prohibition years.
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.
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2012
Bursts of savage violence, fine acting from a top class cast and atmospheric direction grace "Lawless" a semi-biographical crime drama set in at the height of prohibition Virginia. Reuniting director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave, the creative team behind the excellent Australian drama "The Proposition", Lawless" follows the travails of the Bondurant brothers (Forrest, Jack and Howard played respectively by Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke) a family of bootleggers who clash with a sadistic Chicago law enforcer by the name of Rakes (Guy Pearce) sent to Franklin County demanding payment from bootleggers for the privilege of supplying moonshine without reprisal from the law. Headed by the thoughtful but when necessary violent Forrest, the Bondurant brothers refuse to comply and war ensues between the outlaws and lawmen. Thrown into the mix is a pair of romantic subplots involving Forrest and a runaway Chicago dancer named Maggie (Jessica Chastain) and the youngest Bondurant Jack with a preacher's daughter played by Mia Wasikowski.
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. His character exists to make life as difficult as possible for the outlaws and be generally repulsive. In this regard Guy Pearce does strong work getting us to hate Rakes. Another colourful villain is supplied by Gary Oldman in little more than an extended cameo role as a Chicago mobster. Reminiscent of the kind of flamboyant bad guys the actor was once famous for it's a distractingly brief part leaving us wanting more Oldman.
Amongst the aforementioned bloodshed valuably tender moments are provided through the strikingly well played female leads though the romance involving Jack and a preacher's sheltered daughter feels slight and underdeveloped. Chastain's dancer fares better, her chemistry with Tom Hardy and steely fortitude when caught between Rakes' men and the brothers is always compelling. While the drama focuses somewhat on Jacks journey from "runt of the litter" to becoming a major cog in his brothers operation the standout performance and main reason to seek the film out comes from the ever charismatic Tom Hardy. Drawing laughs through Forrest's taciturn nature, commanding and compulsively watchable his performance is the highlight in a film that also boasts a darkly humorous streak that allows for several unexpected laughs. With lyrical imagery to go with its brutality "Lawless" may not have many new tricks up its sleeve but it is constantly watchable and entertaining if a fine shot shy of greatness.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2014
This 2012 production based on actual events set in the post depression-era of Franklin County, Virginia about the activities of a trio of boot-legging brothers (played by Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf) who are threatened by the arrival of a new special deputy (played by Guy Pearce) and the local authorities who want their cut of the profits.
This 50GB region B locked Blu-ray is encoded using the MPEG-4 video codec in full 1080p resolution in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 the original aspect being 2.39:1 this slight change does not effect the look of the film the soundtrack is in English DTS-HD Master Audio there are English subtitles for the hard of hearing.
The special features are as follows: - feature commentary from the director John Hillcoat and the writer of the book “The wettest county in the World” Matt Bondurant, music video from Willie Nelson, Deleted Scenes and the Theatrical trailer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Lawless is directed by John Hillcoat and adapted to screenplay by Nick Cave from the novel The Wettest County in the World written by Mark Bondurant. It stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan and Gary Oldman. Music is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and cinematography by Benoit Delhomme.
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.
A strong stomach is required and you will need to accept the romanticisation of the Bondurant boys, because then you will get the most out of this impressively mounted film that deals in a time of American history that is under represented (particularly out of the city and into the hills) in the movies. 8.5/10
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Based on the true story of three bootlegging brothers in 1931 Virginia, the film has Actors such as
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2013
During prohibition in Franklin Co. Virginia, three restaurant entrepreneur brothers operate an illegal moonshine business. Unfortunately everyone wants a piece of the pie, one that they are not eager to share. The brothers consist of Forrest (Tom Hardy), the brains and philosopher of the group. Howard (Jason Clarke) is a berserker, and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) is the shy driver. Jack is sweet on a Mennonite preacher's daughter (Mia Wasikowska) who likes his "bad boy" image.
Guy Pearce plays Charlie Rakes, a one sided unlikeable crooked deputy who makes us root for the moonshiners. Jessica Chastain provides a little style to the film as a city girl (former feather dancer) who wants to get away from Chicago and winds up working the restaurant for Forrest.
As things pan out, young Jack must suddenly grow himself a set and take over the family enterprise against the odds. Good acting. High intensity.
Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, nudity (Malinda Baker), implied rape.
on 1 February 2013
An interesting film even though many of it's aspects are very average. Where Hillcoat's film "The Proposition" stood out for how different and unique it was compared to other films in it's genre, within this film the plot plays out the way you imagine, the characters are stereotypes and their story arcs are pretty standard and it's very run of the mill in places. The fact that it is still enjoyable in spite of these things is a testament to the high quality of talent involved. Performances are all very good with Tom Hardy playing it very restrained, talking in a soft mumbling way and wearing a cardigan yet he still feels powerful and captivating. I personally don't like Shia LaBeouf and find he overdoes things but I had to admit he was quite good in this even though his Hollywood pretty boy looks jar with the dirty, gritty setting and characters. Jessica Chastain is a good example of the pro's and cons of the film; her character is in essence quite dull due to being a stereotype but her performance is so good that she makes us care for and engage with the character. All other performances are great especially Guy Pearce and Dane DeHaan (the lead in "Chronicle"). The problem is that there are too many characters which leads to them not getting much screen time to be developed and so they appear hollow archetypes. This extends to characters played by Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska's and Jason Clarke (who may aswell be called "that other Bondurant brother") but all three manage to give strong performances in their limited time alloted to them.
It is worth getting on Blu-ray as the setting, lighting and costumes do look great on Blu and reflect the huge amount of thought and effort that went into these areas.
Although it often feels like it is simply going through the motions, this is still a film worth seeing. It's not perfect, it's not original, but everyone involved is really bringing their A game, creating a film that has some of the finest performances from the actors involved and is engaging and captivating when on paper it really shouldn't be.
Set in the early 1930's around Franklin County, Virginia, during the Prohibition era in the United States & based around a true story from the book , The Wettest County in the World. The film follows the 3 Bondurant brothers, Forrest(Tom Hardy-The Dark Knight Rises) , Jack (Shia LaBeouf-Transformers) & Howard (Jason Clarke-The Chicago Code), who run a little gas station & diner in the sticks, along with a very lucrative moonshine still, maintained by their friend Cricket(Dane DeHaan). Having a good relation with the local police they freely sell their wares to the city folk, but as the corrupt local government try to muscle in on the profits by forcing the moonshiners to pay them a cut, which if they don't agree, their enforcer, the heartless Charlie Rakes(Guy Pearce-L.A. Confidential) will convince'em or kill'em.
Overall the film had a mixture of laid back Southerners having fun while selling their moonshine in a county that accepted what they did, turned to bloody violence in places when prohibition hit & these 3 brothers stood up to the corrupt officials but had to live with the consequences & in some cases they're own naivety, all to the backdrop of the rolling Virginian hills. The story itself is OK, it's not action packed, but has it's moments of tension, suspense & action sprinkled through the film as we follow the main plot & the sub story of Jack's romance of the local girl Bertha (Mia Wasikowska-Jane Eyre) behind the back of her disapproving religious father.
The cast itself is top notch, Tom Hardy as the elder brother is very mysterious, Jason Clarke as the middle brother is the most violent, while younger brother Shia LaBeouf who takes up most of the screen time is a mixture of the elder two. He has a quiet mysterious side & an unpredictable temper, while having that edge of naivety. An almost at first unrecognisable Guy Pearce is highly believable as the slimy obsessive-compulsive baddie, whose quirkiness is reminiscent of Jude Law in Road to Perdition, undoubtedly an easy character to hate & root for the antihero brothers. Jessica Chastain (The Help) pops in for some more love interest & breast nudity, as a burnt out club dancer looking for a quiet life. And Gary Oldman (Batman trilogy) makes a few pleasing appearances as a local city mobster who buys from the brothers.
In conclusion, Lawless isn't an all out action movie, it's a gritty slow paced crime drama looking into a slice of prohibition America from the perspective of the moonshiners as opposed to the traditional big city gangsters. Enjoyable, it's not quite, Road to Perdition. Recommended.
on 25 January 2014
I hope the top reviewer was being sarcastic when they stated they found Shia LaBeouf's performance 'surprisingly' good, i'm yet to find a film yet where his performance is a hindrance, he is an exceptional actor...
I think we all find it hard to dislike a film with a fantastic cast, that often goes without saying. With Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf leading the film its hard not to be so drawn in by the performances, everything feels real despite the occasional passing thought of 'that would only happen in a film'. With that being said, films are to be enjoyed and I can more than handle that quiet voice in my head - the action left me grinning, and the brutality reinforced the personality of the characters. The storyline was fantastic; set in the prohibition era with a concentration on the bootleggers hunted by the authorities.
It's a thriller, with great screenplay and in my opinion a perfect ratio of drama and action. I don't really understand how this film fell under the radar, i stumbled upon it by chance and i'm so glad that i did. Highly recommended.
on 17 March 2013
I was really looking forward to watching this since I saw the trailer and bought this on blu ray. And I was impressed, I think the casting of the movie is one of the main reasons why the movie works, with Shia Labeof bringing and innocence and vulnerability contrasting with Hardys Forrest, the leader of the 3 who will do anything necessary to maintain his respect and image, and his perfect whith his subtle glances and gestures. I was also impressed with Guy Pearce as I had not seen him in a recent movie, I thought he portrayed Rakes wonderfully well, in showing his characters evil and intentions. There is also firm support from Gary Oldman playing Floyd Banner, though I feel he's slightly under-used,an actor of his class. The plot is good though falls in parts but keeps interest and engages, all the way to the climatic shoot-out. All in all this is a good movie and ranks with the best of 2012!