A few comments have been floating around claiming it fails as a gangster film, though I’d argue that “Lawless” is not a gangster film. The story focuses on a family caught between police and gangsters, just simple though proud bootleggers. The film claims to be based on a true story, but legends and tall tales make up “Lawless.”
Based on the book “The Wettest County in the World” by a Bondurant descendant, “Lawless” is the story of three brothers, Harold (Jason Clarke), Forrest (Tom Hardy), and Jack (Shia LaBeouf), that find success in making and selling moonshine during Prohibition. Their pride and stubbornness starts a war when Forrest refuses to pay bribes to higher authorities that have taken control over local police.
The whole cast is great at their roles, but there were only two characters that I enjoyed and rooted for: Jack’s friend Cricket (Dane DeHaan) and Forrest. Mia Wasikowska plays a plain girl that Jack wants to woo, Jessica Chastain maintains a balance between confidence and delicacy, Guy Pearce is evilly reptilian, and Gary Oldman plays gangster surprisingly well. Jack is arguably the main character, though his narration focuses on Forrest. Jack is a disappointing protagonist (though LaBeouf plays him well) because he’s just an immature, boastful kid.
The family’s invincibility is referenced CONSTANTLY throughout the entire film, so do not be surprised at the excessive ending. The violence throughout goes slightly too far; lots of blood is shed throughout the film while showcased in close-ups to maximize the brutality.
Gritty like his “The Road” and “The Proposition,” John Hillcoat has a high standard of filmmaking. Hillcoat is once again reunited with Nick Cave for another creative film. I cannot criticize anything but the pretty outrageous story; I loved the acting, the cinematography, the costumes, and the music.
Merge “Legends of the Fall” with Aussie flick “Animal Kingdom” and you almost have “Lawless.” Like “Legends of the Fall,” the story often refers to the legends of the characters, but it has the less engaging tone of “Animal Kingdom” and a similarly less appealing crime family.
Ultimately, the extreme tale left me doubting its accuracy. Sure it makes for a good family yarn, but the rest of us roll our eyes.
Rating for “Lawless:” B-
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Lawless” is playing at most theatres in Columbus, though some have limited showtimes. Cinema City only has four shows spaced out, but the Raves at Polaris and Grove City each have six. For showtimes, click here.