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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 ›
The problem is the script.... I liked Cave's The Proposition but this was second rate stuff. Not bad but it had apaint by numbers
feel to it. Which is a shame really as with Jason Clarke and Tom Hardy it has a lot going for it but both are given too little
Shia LeBeouf is... poor. Ok his character is thinly written but even so he is just plain poor. I dont beleive him or his actions
for one second.
Gary Oldman is wasted here.
Jessica Chastain's talents are totally wasted in this film.
Mia Wasikowska is also sadly wasted.
All of their parts are underwritten to the point of being mere sketches.
Guy Pearce is so over the top he may as well be in pantomime but that's not his fault... there is menace there but its frittered
away because he has no depth or shade.
Its a bloody shame as Clarke and Hardy provide a backbone the script lacks, the rest of the cast is excellent, good direction and
sometimes a great atmospheric feel to the movie and that is when it really succeeds. The music, locations and set peices - in the church, the black funeral, the local dance - all of that really really worked and THAT is what they should have really concentrated on and bult upon but sadly it was all too often relegated to being a backdrop against which a not too well written story gets played out in a too predictible fashion
Poor script though... no where near to the quality that this cast deserved.
A lost opportunity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you like Tom Hardy films you need to see this...very violent but riveting. Loved every minute of it.Published 7 days ago by nibbo100
Enjoyable film although difficult to understand some of the dialogue as Tom Hardy mumbles his way through the accent.Published 1 month ago by D.Bow