Lawless Review. Lawless or Pointless?

The Bondurant Brothers Lawless

Directed by John Hillcoat

Starring, Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce

With the huge success of Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire, a show about the 1920’s prohibition in the USA and bootlegged booze, it was inevitable that Hollywood would cash in on the prohibition era.

Gary Oldman

Lawless tells the story of the Bondurant brothers, played by Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke and the excellent Tom Hardy, following on from his powerhouse performance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. The brothers own a small-town gas station/diner in depression-era Franklin County, Virginia. The brothers also have a sideline business of bootlegging booze to sell to the townsfolk and big shot gangsters in Chicago. However older brother Forrest (Hardy), who is something of a town legend having survived the war and Cholera, refuses to bow down to corrupt officials that want to cash-in on the illegal selling of booze. In comes the evil Special Deputy Charlie Rakes played by the great Guy Pearce, sent from Chicago to take a share of the Bondurant brothers’ profits.Gary Oldman

Much of the story focuses on younger brother Jack (LaBeouf) and his journey from the weakest of the brothers to a wheeler and dealer in the bootlegging trade. On his journey Jack is accompanied by his childhood friend Cricket (Chronicle’s Dane DeHaan) a mentally challenged young man who was disabled with rickets as a child.

Tom HardyThere’s plenty of eye-candy with Forrest’s new employee at the diner Maggie (Jessica Chastain) who previously a dancer in Chicago decides to come to Virginia for a quiet life. She soon falls in love with Forrest and gets sucked into his dangerous lifestyle of bootlegging. Jack on the other hand has eyes for Preacher’s daughter Bertha (Mia Wasikowska) who despite being as rebellious as Jack, is shackled by her religious upbringing.

Whereas the cinematography is excellent and the direction by John Hillcoat is impressive, the story by Nick Cave fails to deliver and at some points seems pointless. The movie brings nothing fresh to the legend of bootlegging and seriously underuses the character of gangster Floyd Banner played by the legend Gary Oldman. Hardy as usual gives a great performance but for most of the movie shrugs around mumbling like a country hick. LaBeouf is okay in his role of Jack but lacks any sympathy from the audience and comes across as a bit of a player who doesn’t know what game he’s playing.

The strongest performances come from DeHaan and Pearce, who both give Oscar-worthy performances as Cricket and Rakes respectively. Pearce is sinister and is one of this year’s greatest movie villains with a weirdly wonderful look.

Guy Pearce

Lawless is a good movie but fails to be anything more than just another movie where the trailer promises so much more. Fans of Hardy will love seeing him here and will get a kick out of his portrayal of Forrest Bondurant the legend of Franklin County.

Unfortunately the end result is pretty much… pointless!

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