Verdict: 3 / 5
Adapted from theatrical novel: The Wettest County in the World
During the prohibition, three brothers find a way of making easy money by producing and selling moonshine. The Bondurant brothers are well-known in Franklin County for being untouchable. Running a gas station as a front for their illegal activities the brothers seem to be in control of their operation. This soon unravels with the arrival of the new District Attorney and Special Agent Charlie Rakes demanding half of their profits. In true Bondurant style, Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) refuses the deal and proceeds with their side business. Things soon get violent with neither side backing down. The youngest brother, Jack (Shia LaBeouf), decides it’s time to become part of the family business and sells their moonshine to infamous gangster, Floyd Banner, and starts making more money than before. The increase of money doesn’t go unnoticed and all hell breaks loose.
Lawless was adapted from the book The Wettest County in the World, and is apparently based on a true story. As far-fetched as this movie seems one can only assume that a few things were embellished a bit for dramatic effect. Even so, Lawless screams dirty Western and doesn’t disappoint with its overall look and feel; one can almost taste the dust in your mouth. This film was way more violent than I was expecting, and was very grisly in its depiction. The plot wasn’t as strong as one would have hoped, but not as disappointing as other movies seen recently.
Tom Hardy as the family’s patriarch is very convincing with his brash style, suiting his character well. I was expecting more from Gary Oldman, maybe because I’m a fan or because he is a big star. His character seemed pointless and beneath his calibre. I would have liked to have seen his character a bit more fleshed out. Guy Pearce as special Agent Charlie Rakes makes you instantly hate him even though he is a lawman. His portrayal of a sadistic, quick-tempered rogue cop makes you want to punch him and very few actors have that ability. The plot was quite disappointing but these actors collectively made a valiant effort to make it work.
You can’t exactly fault the direction of this movie because it stayed true to itself; more the screenplay that let it down. This movie won’t blow you out of the water, but it’s well worth seeing even just to see Tom Hardy do a jig.