Lawless takes place during the depression in rural Franklin County, Virginia. The Bondurant Brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) run a modest bootlegging operation, one of many in the area. Their younger brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf) desperately wants to join his brothers in the bootlegging racket but seemingly lacks the grit and toughness his older brothers are known as legends for having. But when Special Deputy Charles Rakes (Guy Pearce) descends on Franklin looking for a cut of not a few but ALL of the operations in the county things change after Forrest refuses to give up a share of his business to him.
Jack’s eagerness to join his brothers is spurred on by his budding romance with a local preacher’s daughter Bertha (Mia Wasikowska) and the distillation ingenuity of his best friend Cricket (Dane DeHaan). Once Jack gets his wish however, he learns very quickly that the bootlegging business is not something to be taken lightly and that becoming a legend has its own price to pay.
The biggest thing that stood out to me after leaving the theater was how funny it was! Yeah I know, right? Not expecting that at all. When you see the trailer you’re left thinking that this movie is going to be a non-stop dower ride of tension and gunfire but the movie expertly inserts light and humorous moments throughout which was refreshing considering that the movie does goes to some dark places as it progresses. After that, were the performances of Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce who definitely play to their strengths, Hardy as a stoic badass and Pearce as the perverted and sadistic villain.
There was a couple of times in the movie though where I’m hearing Hardy’s voice and I thought he just might say “I am Gotham’s Reckoning” but at least this time it matches the back-woodsy hillbilly character he’s playing.The relationship between his character and Jessica Chastain’s character, Maggie Beauford didn’t get enough screen time in my opinion, especially when you consider how much she ends up contributing to the Bondurant legend mid-way through the movie. That mistake wasn’t made with Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska’s characters though. I’m assuming this is because Jack is supposed to be the main character in the movie but really who do you want to see more of on screen, Shia or Tom? But I admit watching Jack and Bertha go a-courtin’ is quite enjoyable and is the primary source of the movie’s humor.
The only big disappointment here to me was how little Gary Oldman as mobster Floyd Banner was used. His character is literally in this movie for the sole purpose of handing a piece of paper to Jack Bondurant…and then whacking a dude in the face with a shovel. Maybe when this comes out on blu-ray there will be a director’s cut in which he has more screen time? Maybe?
The film’s ending is not as strong as I was expecting considering how good the build-up is, but it did give me just enough of what I wanted to be satisfied, just enough.
This movie is based on a book that recounts the lives of the Bondurants which I have not read, so I can’t tell you if it measures up or not or how closely it follows the book but as a standalone film it was certainly entertaining. Not enough to make me want to read the book or anything, but enough to not complain about paying full price for a ticket (Which I RARELY do considering the amount of movies I see in theaters).
When I checked for local screen times for this movie I was surprised to find it only playing on one screen in my city which is a shame because this movie is definitely worth seeing but I guess the movie’s marketing department knows something I don’t, because there were only 12 people in the theater (myself included) to see it…which is a shame because it’s a pretty good movie.