"When The Law Becomes Corrupt, Outlaws Become Heroes"
Lawless is the true story of the Bondurant brothers based on the novel The Wettest County in the world written by Matt Bondurant, Grandson of Jack Bondurant.
The Bondurant brothers(Forrest, Howard, Jack) are small gang of bootleggers that operate deep in the Virginia hills making their moonshine and sell it to local bars and other gangs who are willing to buy it during the prohibition era, they have become some what of local legends with family tales going back years that strikes fear into anyone who know them or if they don't know them they soon find out you don't mess with the Bondurant's if you don't want a cold hearted stone face look or pair of Brace knuckles across the face from Forrest or a good old fashion beat down from Howard.
The movie is told mostly from youngest brother Jack's(Shia Labeouf) point of view, who looks up to oldest brother Forrest(Tom Hardy) who has become a local legend in his own right and his no nonsense don't take no mess from anybody attitude, but when Jack sees Chicago mobster Floyd Banner(Gary Oldman) rides into town and shoots up a car that's been chasing him and then rides away, That's what Jack wants for himself instead of what Forrest has given them.
With it being Prohibition era and the federal government fastly shutting down illegal businesses like theirs, it was only a matter of time before the law was knocking on their door, in this case its in the form of Charlie Rakes(Guy Pearce) who will do any and everything to bring down the Bondurant's who are the final hold outs of bending down to the law.
Lawless is one of those movies that from a story point of view has been told before but only few have done it better with a stellar cast Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman and yes even Shia Labeouf.
For me there are 3 stand out performances
1. Tom Hardy-Forrest Bondurant
Hardy does a great job playing Elder brother Forrest with his gruff demeanor and shows just how much of a touch guy he can be when it calls for it, but where he really shines is when he shows the character softer side, if you can call it that when dealing with family issues and even love situations.
2. Jessica Chastain- Maggie Beauford
Jessica Chastain turns in another fine performance as Maggie former big city girl who's trying to leave that life behind by going to the country side in Virginia and start over fresh and begins a business relationship with the Bondurant's and takes a liking to Forrest and even saves his life in more ways then one. she keeps turning in performances like this and others that she's done before she might just become a shoe in during award season for nominations like Meryl Streep has done.
3 Guy Pearce- Charlie Rakes
Guy Pearce turns into probably one of the most hated villainous characters all time, as G man Rakes who is brought in to do a job, that job is to make the Bondurant's and anybody who sides with them life a living hell, from his first appearance you can tell something isn't right about this guy with his Alfalfa part going down the middle of his head and his OCD type of condition with not wanting to be touched or have anyone touch him and for him taking a boot to the face is worst then getting his head blown off,
I only have 2 small problems with the cast
1. Gary Oldman- Floyd Banner
I'm a huge Gary Oldman fan and I seem to enjoy his bad guy roles a little more then his good guy ones for the simple fact that he's really good at playing a bad guy, so when I saw that he was going to be in Lawless as a bad guy I was really waiting to see him shine and his first appearance in the movie where he stands in the street shooting up a car and riding away hanging onto his getaway car is a great scene but after that he seems to only show up two or three more times and then disappear without any other mention
Now I know the movie is based off the book of the real events of the Bondurant's but at the same time its a movie and it's Gary Freaking Oldman, it would've been nice to have him and Forrest have a scene or two or have him getting into a shoot out with Charlie Rakes, I wanted more Gary Oldman!!!
But I guess he took the small roll of Floyd Banner because he was going off to shoot The Dark Knight Rises soon after, which can also explains Tom Hardy's Bulked up frame in this as well.
2. Shia Labeouf- Jack Bondurant
No surprise that he was going to be one of the problems right? well its not for most of the reason's I have with him in other movies, because his acting here was pretty good, the biggest problem I have with him here is that Jack is the main character and the movie is told from his point of view, Labeouf has come a long way with his acting but still has a way's to go to be looked at as a leading man especially being surrounded with the likes of Hardy, Chastain, Clarke, Oldman, Pearce, who all seem natural with their roles, where Labeouf looks to be trying just a bit to hard to sell his performance to the audience, with that being said he is on the right track by trying to put his Transformers days behind him.
Overall Lawless is a gem of a movie, about a tale of Family, loyalty, Change, and I enjoyed every minute of it. If you enjoy movies like this about History, well rounded characters, and a good story told by good actors then Lawless is the movie for you to Rent, Buy, or Stream, but most importantly check out.