After a so-so reception from the post-apocalyptic film The Road, director John Hillcoat is back with a great American gangster film, Lawless. This gritty, violent prohibition-era tale packs a hell of a punch with its graphic violence, a very distinct atmosphere, outstanding acting, and a few laughs here and there.
The film follows Jack Bondurant and his two brothers set in Franklin County, Virginia in the 1930s. Shia Lebeouf plays Jack, the youngest of the brothers. This role was a very simple character, but was made so much more with Lebeouf’s best work to date, although he wasn’t alone in the process. The cast around Lebeouf really forms this story into a great film.
As said before, this film follows three brothers all in the business of bootlegging moonshine in the prohibition era. A vast reputation has made them legends in Franklin County, VA, which makes them seem to be ‘above the law.’ Tom Hardy plays Forrest Bondurant, the leader of the three, the ‘silent but lethal’ of the group, and is known by legend to be ‘indestructible.’ Jason Clarke plays Howard Bondurant, the bruiser, who also enjoys his moonshine. Guy Pearce plays Charlie Rakes, a special deputy from Chicago who will stop at nothing short of murder, violence, and corruption to stop the Bondurant brothers. Add Gary Oldman as Chicago gangster Floyd Banner, and you have all the ingredients for chaotic gangster drama.
The supporting roles really shaped this film into being a very good tale. Other awesome supporting performances came from Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowski, and Dane DeHaan. Chastain plays Maggie Beauford, a city girl moved to the country to find a quieter life, and gets more than she bargained for. Wasikowski plays Lebeouf’s love interest, Bertha Minnix, a preacher’s daughter who sees Lebeouf for more than his reputation. Finally, DeHaan, who was outstanding in Chronicle, plays Cricket Pate, a member of the Bondurant gang and somewhat of their other brother.
The film is ‘based on a true story.’ It’s based on Matt Bondurant’s fictionalized account, The Wettest County In The World’ of his ancestor’s and their bootlegging in Franklin County in the 1930s. Even though this was based on a true story, I doubted quite a bit of the plot. Even with that, it was still a great story that had me hooked from the start. From the gritty violence to outstanding acting, you can’t go wrong with this film. The movie runs almost two hours, and the pacing stretches that to seem like the perfect amount of time to unfold this story. If you’re looking for violence, drama, and more violence, then this is the film for you.
From director John Hillcoat and written by Nick Cave, Lawless is nothing more and nothing less than a true outlaw tale. Told with grit and style, and brought to audiences with a terrific cast of tremendous actors.
Check out the trailer and tell us your thoughts on this film!