“Lawless” (2012) tells the violent true story of a trio of bootlegging siblings, the Bondurant brothers, in rural Virginia during the Prohibition era. This Southern Gothic crime drama is based on the novel by Matt Bondurant (the grandson of Jack Bondurant, played by Shia LaBeouf in the film) titled “The Wettest County in the World”.
It is a gritty and brutal story of the three brothers guarding both their business and way of life against encroachment by corrupt government officials as well as their lead enforcer, Special Deputy Charlie Rakes played by an incredibly creepy Guy Pearce. In addition to the tolerable Shia LaBeouf (in general, I’m just not a fan), the roles of Forrest Bondurant and Howard Bondurant are admirably played by Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke, respectively.
Other notable performers in the film include Jessica Chastain who plays Forrest Bondurant’s love interest and Gary Oldman who both chews and shoots the scenery as a Tommy-gun-toting mobster.
Though the movie operates with an excess of old-style gangster clichés, the tale is well told and entertaining via director John Hillcoat (who previously directed the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”) and Nick Cave who penned the screenplay.
Currently, it’s available for streaming on Netflix.
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity)
Directed By: John Hillcoat
Written By: Nick Cave
Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.