10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Well Made, If Aloof, Period Crime Drama That Never Really Made Me Care About Its Central Characters,
This review is from: Lawless (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
"Lawless" was one of the movies that I most looked forward to this year! A period piece about the outlaw Bondurant family of Virginia, the movie has gritty action set in the time of Prohibition. What's not to love? It also features an incredible A-list cast including Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, and Mia Wasikowska. An impressive collection! It was also written by the eternally cool Nick Cave inspired by the fantastic biography "The Wettest County in the World." On paper, this had the potential to be one of the best film's of the year. And yet, something never really connected with me about "Lawless." It's a well made film, to be sure, but the story and its characters just didn't come alive enough to separate this from other Prohibition era dramas that have preceded it. I felt like I'd seen this tale many times before, and oftentimes with more depth. "Lawless" may still be worth seeing (especially for the cast), it just never felt particularly special to me. And that was a huge let-down.
LaBeouf, Hardy, and Jason Clarke play the Bondurant brothers. As local bootleggers, they developed into regional legends. Deemed indestructible, they ruled the roost in Franklin County. But situations started to turn tense as the corrupt officials (fronted by an oily Pearce) wanted to get in on the profits. The Bondurants, led by a scary Hardy, were not one to bend and a battle of wills ensue. The youngest brother (LaBeouf) attempts to take a larger role and enlists the aid of a notorious gangster (Oldman) to keep the family in power. The movie is structured as a series of escalating confrontations and the violence is well orchestrated and choreographed. The ladies (Chastain and Wasikowska) both seem to be in underwritten parts, and never figure very prominently into the action. In fact, on a fundamental level, I never felt particularly close to any of the characters and as we are supposed to consider them outlaw heroes--this was a big problem for me.
The tagline even states: "They were brothers who became outlaws, and outlaws who became heroes." I never felt it, though. The screenplay does not demonstrate what was unique and/or inspiring about this clan. The real life Bondurants had an incredible back story, but in the movie--I was never sure why I was supposed to be rooting for them. I liked "Lawless" overall. It was a perfectly acceptable entertainment. It just falls short of what might have been. Hardy continues to impress, Oldman is a lot of fun, and Pearce has got some great hair (and no eyebrows). But the film showed me nothing new. About 3 1/2 stars, this is probably not a film I'd add to my must-see collection. KGHarris, 12/12.
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Initial post: Aug 25, 2013 2:17:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 25, 2013 2:43:34 PM PDT
Mark O. Avery says:
I hear you on not feeling the film.
I'm of the opposite frame of mind where this flick is concerned. I very much
empathized with the Bondurants because "Lawless" was so well cast. LaBeouf,
Clark and Hardy worked swell for me as brothers. Shia I appreciate because of
the Transformers trilogy, J. Clarke was just a good fit as Howard Bondurant and
I'm finally impressed with Tom Hardy after "This Means War" and his stint as "Bain" in the last Christian Bale Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises". His strong
and quiet "Forrest Bondurant" along with Chastain's "Maggie" is a good reason for me to revisit this flick. I really feel it rises above "acceptable entertainment" due to the very good cast. I haven't seen a slew of prohibition era flicks but I can honestly say this is a particularly noteworthy addition to what I've viewed........hey, I like it a lot!
Posted on May 13, 2014 2:53:59 PM PDT
Perfect review. I agree with 3.5 stars. Although it had great cinematography and a top-notch actor/writer/director team, the characters seemed wooden and the story was not very interesting. None of the three brothers did or said much I cared about, and Guy Pearce's character was two-dimensional. It was fine to watch all the way through, but nothing more.
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