Lawless, John Hillcoat
From the script alone, Lawless offers nothing new to the drama genre or films focusing on the Prohibition era. However, this doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining and watchable movie.
The movie opens with the Bondurant brothers nudging the youngest, Jack, to shoot a pig for slaughter, who ultimately refuses. It is obvious that this will be the character arc the movie focuses on, and it does refer back to it regularly. Go forward some years and we find the boys running a bootlegging business that ends with Jack (Shia LaBeouf) nearly getting himself killed because of his cowardice.
Despite this weakness, Jack is eager to have a bigger part in his brothers’ alcohol business but his unwillingness to be more brutal stops him. He also has aspirations to make the business bigger, but Forrest (Tom Hardy), the brother in charge, only cares to keep it local. Nothing out of the ordinary happens for most of the movie; most audiences will be guessing what happens next by the time Guy Pearce shows up as the man sent to bring them down.
Although the plot has nothing to offer, every other aspect has plenty. Gary Oldman, as an accomplished gangster, is superb albeit brief, and Guy Pearce is chilling as a germaphobic and cruel detective. Jessica Chastain, known for her role in The Help, also holds her own as the love interest for Forrest, and while LeBeouf isn’t spectacular, he shows moments of being an actual actor.
The real prize goes to Tom Hardy, who shines as a no-holds barred brother that is comfortable doing what he does and where he does it. He was also said to be invincible, which was laughable when I first heard it. Then the story plays out, and what would normally kill any other man would leave him almost unfazed, to the point of incredulity.
What I found particularly enjoyable about Hardy was his demeanour and speech (or lack thereof) around Chastain. For a character meant to have as much emotion as a rock, it was nearly adorable.
The scenery is spectacular and the music is fitting, which when bundled up with the rest of the film makes for a nice package. The ending is fitting character-wise but lacks a bit of tact when tying the movie together.
If you’re someone who appreciates good actors doing a good job, then I suggest you go watch it. If you aren’t my father, however, then you would be better off looking elsewhere.