Directed by John Hillcoat.
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Guy Pearce.
In Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, three brothers find their bootlegging business coming under threat from corrupt officials who want a cut of their profits.
The Bondurant brothers were a trio of siblings; Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clark) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf), who ran a bootlegging operation during prohibition in American, and Lawless tells the tale of their run in with Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) who is drafted in from Chicago to cut in on their enterprise and obtain a slice of the profits.
Things are going pretty well for the Bondurant brothers when we first meet them; their operation is running smoothly and is fairly low key, however this all changes when they are paid a visit by Special Deputy Rakes who advises them that they have been left alone for far too long and that the state wants a subsidy for allowing them to continue. The Bondurants, not being the type to give concessions, reject the offer which effectively starts a war as Rakes sets his sights on shutting them down.
We are led to believe that the Bondurants are immortal: Howard, the eldest, was in the Great War and the only survivor of his troop. Forrest, the decision maker, survived the Spanish Flu as a child. This theme is played out throughout the movie, providing quite a few comedic moments, and we see just how much the Bondurants, Forrest specifically, believe in this legend.
The story is told through the eyes of the youngest sibling, Jack, who whilst being the youngest is also very much unlike his elder kin, unable to defend his self physically and is a little naive with big dreams who loves the glamour the life his brothers activities provides him. Forrest, who makes the decisions and runs the operation, excludes Jack from the business itself which Jack hopes to change. He seizes the moment and takes the initiative when the opportunity arises and the Bondurants’ empire booms.
The cast really help make this film and whilst I’m not really a fan of Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) – in fact there’s quite a big dislike there – he is genuinely good in this. He has a lot to play with; shame and sadness, compassion and love, anger and revenge, and a few comedic moments which he handles really well. I was definitely impressed with his performance.
Guy Pearce is brilliant as always as the loathsome Special Deputy Rakes, a man as repulsed by his own body as we are of him. He’s incredibly vain and takes cleanliness to extremes, this is a credit to Pearce who suggested the characters striking aesthetic himself.
I’m not sure why Gary Oldman was cast in this film – he has literally 2/3 minutes of screen time and his inclusion and his character suggest a bigger plot afoot that just never materialises and we never see him again.
One man whose presence I completely understand however is Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), as he plays the role of the unforgiving and brutal Forrest. Hardy is able to fill all of his roles with these tiny idiosyncrasies, unique to each role he is playing, which really bring the character to life and – for Forrest Bondurant – add a few laughs to the proceedings.
I certainly enjoyed this film; it takes a little while to really get going but features strong performances from its cast members and has some small action set pieces which are entertaining and filled with graphic and ferocious violence in places. I’d definitely suggest checking this one out.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★