Lawless is the story, which is based on true events, of three bootlegger brothers living in Prohibition-Era Virginia, and a new deputy comes from Chicago to put a stop to the wettest county in the country.

The movie is based off of a book titled “The Wettest County in the World”, written by Matt Bondurant, who is actually the grandson of the main character of the film, Jack Bondurant, who is played by Shia LaBeouf. The movie was written by the ever-so-talented Nick Cave, who composed what might be my favorite film music for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Cave is mostly known for composing music for movies, but he also writes and performs very actively, and has also written a couple other films in his day.

Coming into the movie, I was expecting a ‘pop-corn’ action film that would be a usual Hollywood production. I had forgotten that the movie has an ‘R’ rating, and deserves it. The action is far from ‘popcorn film’ light, fast style. Instead, it is dark, gruesome, and real. Every punch thrown draws blood, injuries are lasting, and the threat of physical danger is real, something very rarely experienced in movies. There is a lot more blood, bruises, and death than I expected, and people should be warned that things get pretty scary. I thought it was great, and combined with the costumes and settings gave the film a real strong, authentic feeling.

There were periods of lighter material that I thought were misplaced and unnecessary. There were some clear inconsistencies within both the plot and direction, and I struggled to discern any driving force or idea that backed up the plot. While these factors didn’t completely define the movie, the conclusion had me horribly confused and disgusted. It was senseless and illogical, and failed to leave any sort of satisfaction when the credits rolled.

The actors were good, though. LaBeouf was a little wimpier than I thought his character would be, but did really well. Tom Hardy was not the first choice for the role of the strong, bad-ass character, and was cast while still being jacked for The Dark Knight Rises, so he was supposed to be a little thinner than he was, but he still pulled off the desired effect. Guy Pearce was really loathsome and disgusting, and it was awesome. Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, and Gary Oldman were all well played, but didn’t get too terribly much screen time to shine, which stinks, because I am a huge Oldman and Chastain fan.

My Rating

2/4 – Lawless boasts a really great cast and achieves periods of unique gritty, gruesome awesomeness, but is overwhelmed by bipolar direction, a shallow story, and a confusing, senseless ending.


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