Exclusive: Lawless Movie Review (7.2/10 – Good)
The recipe for potent movie moonshine is as follows. You take an indestructible hero, a scrappy underdog, a memorable villain, and a dame with a checkered past; mix in several moments of triumphant violence; throw in some wisecracks; boil it for a couple hours; then sit back and drink it until you feel dizzy.
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Review by Film.com
That formula works just fine in “Lawless,” a bouncy, messy, bloody, fact-based piece of entertainment set among Virginia bootleggers during the Prohibition. Even with its throat-slittings and brass-knuckle-bashings, it’s the most lighthearted thing director John Hillcoat has made. There weren’t many laughs in the post-apocalyptic “The Road” or the dusty Australian vengeance tale “The Proposition” (which, like “Lawless,” was written by musician Nick Cave). There are plenty of laughs here, interspersed with cringes and gasps.
As you might guess, the “villain” is law enforcement, and our heroes are good ol’ boys who happen to make a living producing booze in the 1930s. They are the Bondurant brothers: hot-headed team leader Forrest (Tom Hardy), hulking enforcer Howard (Jason Clarke), and eager-to-prove-himself Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the youngest, who also narrates.
Review by THR
Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Gary Oldman inhabit Prohibition-era Virginia in John Hillcoat’s outlaw drama.
CANNES – After proving to be a problematic fit for the grim post-apocalyptic existentialism of The Road, director John Hillcoat is back on more fertile turf with Lawless, a muscular slice of grisly Americana rooted in flavorful Prohibition-era outlaw legend. While a touch overlong and not as distinctive as his last collaboration with screenwriter Nick Cave, the Australian Western The Proposition, the new film is more commercially accessible, fueled by a brooding sense of dread, visceral bursts of violence, potent atmosphere and some juicy character portraits from a robust cast.
The nominal lead figure in the dark ensemble drama is Jack Bondurant, probably the most standard role but one that yields more accomplished work than pretty much anything Shia LaBoeuf has done to date. However, it’s the characters around Jack that supply much of the texture, notably his brothers, the taciturn, philosophizing Forrest (Tom Hardy) and hooch-swilling punisher Howard (Jason Clarke).
Review by EW
Lawless, set in the hills of Virginia in the 1930s, is an example of how clichés can be made pretentious. The movie tells the true tale of the Bondurant brothers — three down-home, backwoods siblings (played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clark) who become prominent bootleggers, supplying a vast region with jars of moonshine and fighting the underworld establishment, with fists and knives and bullets, for the right to do so. Directed by Australia’s John Hillcoat, who made the overrated art Western The Proposition and then turned the movie version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road into heavy lifting.