Lawless

Lawless does a great job with the rustic outlaw feel as well as the dialect among the characters. The acting and the aesthetics are hands down the strongest point in this movie. I would have loved to see more focus on the bootlegging and dodging the law but unfortunately it loses direction and almost seems aimless at times. Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce are worthy standouts among this cast and together create extremely entertaining scenes. Although Lawless is hampered by some loose editing and slow plotlines Lawless still manages to hold its own as a brutal and violent gangster film.

I’ve been looking forward to Lawless for a long time. Having recently gotten into shows such as Hell on Wheels, Hatfields & McCoys, and of course Boardwalk Empire, Lawless was jumping off the screen for me. Pair that with some impressive actors attached to the movie and I was sold from the first trailer.

Lawless tells the story of three Bondurant brothers and their lives as bootleggers. Eventually the law comes down on them and forces their hand when it comes to handling of their business. Jack Bondurant, the youngest of the brothers, finds himself trying to prove himself worthy of the Bondurant name and his emergence in the bootlegging business.

The plot is based off the Matt Bondurant novel, The Wettest County in the World. The story is a nice slice of life view for the Bondurant family and is entertaining to watch unfold on screen. There are a few aspects of the story I probably could have gone without but for the most part the story is captivating and allows you to become emotionally invested with the characters.

The biggest attraction for me was Tom Hardy. Although the movie doesn’t focus on him as much as I would have liked, he still manages to steal the show. Hardy is able to portray the violent but calm Forrest Bondurant. His character demands and controls your attention while on screen all while creating a great sense of intimidation. His accent, though hard to hear at times, nails the southern drawl to it. I know it seems like a repeating offense with Hardy and his accents but it’s not as distracting as it was in The Dark Knight Rises. Lawless is set in a world where strength wins and Hardy proves that he brings that strength to his character perfectly. He brings his own subtleties to his character such as soft grunts instead of direct answer, slow pauses in his dialogue, and uninterested demeanor when dealing with the law. Overall the character and its portrayal are handled wonderfully and are definitely worth seeing.

Guy Pearce is a delight on screen as well. His take on Special Agent Charlie Rakes was capable of creating a truly villainous character and allowed you to root for the bootleggers who in reality where the lawbreakers. Coming from Chicago to Virginia you can hear the arrogances in his voice in the way he perceives himself so much higher than any of the citizens of Franklin County, Virginia. Pearce easily creates a character you love to hate and is able to compliment Hardy’s character as well as the other Bondurant brothers. Much like with Hardy, Pearce fits the era well in both his look and his voice. He has the high pitch voice and tone that feels iconic with the era and helps to seal the illusion for me.

I was disappointed in Gary Oldman’s character because there were essentially two scenes with him. It felt like such a huge waste giving the incredible talent of Oldman. The scenes he is in are done well and it shows that he plays in the Prohibition Era so well that he serves as nothing more than a tease.

A fear I had going into the movie was with Shia LaBeouf who played the youngest brother Jack Bondurant. Shia gets a lot of hate given some of his recent movies but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Although he wasn’t bad in Lawless he just didn’t do enough to carry the movie, which hurts seeing as how majority of the movie focuses on him. A lot of Lawless’ problems come from Shia’s plotlines as well, such as the love interest story, so it’s not helping his case when a lot of the down time in Lawless comes from his time on screen. He gives it his best and is able to adequately portray the runt of the litter among the Bondurant brothers but ultimately he steals time away from some of the other great characters.

The movie is plagued with a lot of slow moving pieces and becomes a chore to get through at times. There’s a subplot between Jack Bondurant and Bertha Minnix that breaks up a lot of the forward progress in the story. We get some great tense moments with the Bondurants and the law enforcement only to be interrupted with courting scenes between Jack and Bertha. This is where Shia is at his weakest acting wise. It’s the few moments in the movie where I see more of Shia coming through his character instead of him portraying Jack Bondurant. The editing could have been tighter throughout which would have allowed more time in more important places.

The movie features a lot violent scenes that usually end with a lot of blood or characters beaten to a pulp. The thing that makes it even better is that movie builds up great suspense before these scenes, which adds a lot to the violence and the dread. The movie overall has a grim tone that accentuates the crime ridden and rustic look of the world. As a fan of Boardwalk Empire it’s nice to see the other side of the coin when it comes to the Prohibition era. Boardwalk focuses a lot on the distribution and gangster side of the story where as Lawless starts at the source of the illegal alcohol business. This is where I feel like the movie missed the mark when they could have delved a little more into the moonshine business of the time.

Lawless does a great job with the rustic outlaw feel as well as the dialect among the characters. The acting and the aesthetics are hands down the strongest point in this movie. I would have loved to see more focus on the bootlegging and dodging the law but unfortunately it loses direction and almost seems aimless at times. Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce are worthy standouts among this cast and together create extremely entertaining scenes. Although Lawless is hampered by some loose editing and slow plotlines Lawless still manages to hold its own as a brutal and violent gangster film.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at rrsolis@me.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

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Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
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