Lawless: Bootleggers With Brass Knuckles

It is safe to say that Tom Hardy is a major star on the rise over the last few years.  His ability to morph into whatever the role requires means he will be due for some movie down the road that will at least earn him an academy nomination.  Hardy is a very serious actor without question and hopefully some of his talents rub off on his Lawless co-star, Shia LaBeouf who has stated in several recent interviews that he wants to take on more serious acting roles with a “method” approach made famous by the late Marlon Brando.  Lawless is definitely a different breed of movie than what we have seen LaBeouf in over the last few years.

Here is a brief introduction to Lawless:  Set back in the prohibition era of the early 1930’s in Virginia, the Bondurant brothers have their own niche in their community as ruthless bootleggers.  The reputation however most fits the two eldest brothers, Forrest (Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke), while the runt of the trio, Jack (LaBeouf), can do harm on to anyone.  Corruption and danger haunts the brother as a special agent, Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce), arrives from Chicago with the intent of bust all bootleggers in Virginia.  With their back against the wall the Bondurant brother struggle to protect themselves and other that they care about in the town.  Here is the trailer:

Not sure about how well Lawless follows the biographical novel it is based off of called The Wettest County In The World by Matt Bondurant but this is one hell of a story.  If you are going into this expecting just some simple hiding an underground operation from the cops kind of movie you will find so much more in this film.  It does a good job of showing the Bondurant’s place in Franklin County and not just telling their “legend of immortality.”  Now introduce into that a legend killer of a deputy that is not just hunting down the Bondurant’s but all bootleggers and the way it impacts the other inhabitants of the county.  And hunting may be a tame word considering the malicious and violent acts that are committed.

There are several noteworthy performances in Lawless.  Tom Hardy does not say much but has grunts and actions speak volumes about the nature of the tough as nails Forrest Bondurant.  LaBeouf definitely shows his acting range in this one even though his accent slipped a few times.  Guy Pearce to me was eerie in this movie for two reasons:  one he just did horrible things to who even rubbed him the wrong way and two he was so clean and proper that he was gross which is odd.  Jessica Chastain was fantastic too in her subtle yet seductive role.  Then finally Dane DeHaan as Cricket, Jack’s physically handicapped right-hand man.  The Chronicle star showed more of his acting ability and I hope to see more from him.

Overall, Lawless is kind of like a Scarface of the prohibition days of Virginia.  It is a solid crime/drama with plenty of violence that keeps the movie from ever getting dull.  I give Lawless an 8/10.

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