It's a shame this movie is a bit of a one trick pony. The first 10 mins set the scene, with some really ugly personalities (in the mental sense) and you feel you're in for a good movie, but it just doesn't go anywhere. None of the characters are fleshed out and it doesn't even have a plot, so it can't have any twists! Plenty of violence and some good parts for the evil Guy Pierce, and the formidable Tom Hardy doing an admirable hill-billy like Marlon Brando Godfather type, with the puffed up cheeks and monosylabic grunts. BUT it has that light-weight Shia Lebeouf all over it, running about like a puppy dog (which is what he is supposed to do but...) You can't help wondering that if the director had cut a wee bit of the violence then it may have got a lower age certificate. Every kid i know between 12-17 is dying to see the movie, so it's missed its main audience in my view. A movie for the violent gaming generation not us elitest movie go-ers - ho ho!
moviemoghul (Unverified), 21/09/12
A contender for best foreign language film – at least it should be as Lawless is barely decipherable in parts without subtitles. A depression era gangster film set in the American south, it’s as rough and ready as the liquor brewed by the brothers at the heart of this ‘true story’.
Jack Bondurant (Shia LeBeouf) is the youngest of three brothers, wet behind the ears, and looking up to his tough-nut siblings Howard and especially Forrest (Tom Hardy). Local rumour has it that the brothers can’t be killed but a new lawman Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce) from the city lights of Chicago is out to prove that wrong. And when Jack goes it alone with mobster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman), lawman Rakes will stop at nothing to end the boys’ liquor racket. And if the beaus’ belles get in the way, tough luck.
Hillcoat is known for his gritty, violent pics. The Road was the bleakest film of 2009. And The Proposition was one of the most hard-hitting in 2005. Lawless aims for a wider appeal but earns a certificate 18 because of the beatings, throat cuttings and knuckledustings that Hillcoat throws in. Scripted by Proposition collaborator Nick Cave, Lawless is more like a western than a gangster film. And if you like strongly-cast, blood and bone film-making – like No Country for Old Men, say - you’ll enjoy this.
LeBeouf comes of age, breaking out from the action film comedy turns of the Transformers trio and Eagle Eye – and convinces as Jack, wanting to be like the brothers but lacking their conscience-free violence. Winning the affections of a preacher’s daughter bolsters his confidence and LeBeouf nails the vulnerability that still remains. Mia Wasikowski (Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland) further develops her range, caught up in the boys’ moonlight world.
Yet Hillcoat’s film doesn’t quite hang together. Oldman strides in, tommy gun blazing, and spades an associate to death. Then disappears from the film. Jack is badly beaten but looks fine days later. Pearce’s lawman is a cartoon villain, hissably horrid. Tom Hardy’s glowering, grumbly-voiced Forrest is a charismatic presence. But the story circles around going nowhere except the inevitable showdown.
Solid and sultry, Lawless is brutal but not bold. Passably entertaining it does nothing new. But its wit and the winning performances of Hardy, LeBeouf and Wasikowski help to keep its head above water. Just don’t expect to catch every word of Nick Cave’s script. Not that you need to.
Glenn Watson (DI Reviewer), 06/09/12
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