As Prohibition dawned over the south, moonshine and bootlegging became inevitable. Lawless is a portrait of the three Bondurant brothers, Howard, Forrest and Jack, and their fight for survival as the law becomes more corrupt.
At first I was skeptical about this movie, especially after seeing that Shia LaBeouf somehow still has an acting career, but then I knew I had to see it after I learned that the screenplay was written by the one-and-only Nick Cave (adapted off of a book, as it were). As a result, well, I guess one could say that this film was adequate.
Though I often give LaBeouf a hard time, it’s really he’s not a bad actor, it’s just he doesn’t really present anything memorable. Jack Bondurant is a character almost similar to Michael Corleone: he’s caught between following the family business (which he seemingly wants to) and surviving on his own. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be childish and arrogant, but that’s definitely the vibe I got from this character. Needless to say, this performance was certainly nothing special.
Now as for the other brothers, Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke), Forrest is really the only brother worth paying attention to, if not the only character. Forrest is a man shrouded with myths and legends of his own endurance. It would seem that he lived up to these legends, being that he’s so stoic he only speaks in grunts and utterances. Regardless, I wouldn’t mess with this guy. As for Howard, he’s just the dumb brute of the family.
As for the remaining supporting cast, I also was hoping for great things from Jessica Chastain who played Maggie Beauford. As the only prominent female character in the film, she proved to be tough and sexy and all that stuff, but if you look at this poster and then saw the movie expecting a kick-ass gun-slinging chick, you’d be sorely mistaken.
Though Gary Oldman was only in the film for maybe five minutes, I will commend the movie for referencing more larger-than-legend gangsters in this manner: though you only see him for a little bit, you know everything you need to know about them with just an expression. Lastly, we get to Guy Pearce’s character, Dept. Charlie Rakes:
Look at this fricken guy. Have you ever seen anyone more sleazy and loatheable in your life? And what did they do with Pearce’s eyebrows? We aren’t given much on Rakes’ character, but he’s portrayed as every parody of a crooked cop you can find. Part of me is almost fascinated with this person – I want to know his background and why he’s so dang prissy.
Lawless presents us with a gritty murder ballad of family and faux pas. Though it shows us that blood is indeed thicker than well, let’s say moonshine, I feel that there’s a fine line between tribute and parody that is crossed way too often. On the upside, the score/soundtrack is worth checking out – it definitely has a bluegrass-O Brother Where Art Thou? feel from it, but there’s still that extra element that makes it that much more enjoyable. Was it Mr. Cave’s doing? Most likely.
Final Grade: B-