Thursday, August 30, 2012

Movie Review: Lawless

Moonshine, bootleggers and Prohibition. Lawless based on the “mostly” true story of the Bondurant brothers, Howard (Jason Clarke); mostly crazy, drinks more than his fair share of moonshine so he can drown out when he was in the war, Forrest (Tom Hardy) The smart one of the bunch. He's the one everyone respects, he runs the family business and the bootlegging operation. And there's Jack (Shia LeBeouf) the youngest, the runt, the one who's na├»ve and gun-shy but has big ideas he clearly doesn't fully think through.

The movie is based on the novel The Wettest County in the World. I put the book on hold at my library for later. The movie is set in 1931 during the height of Prohibition. The area of Franklin County, Virginia is the mecca of moonshine. Most of the residents drink it, a good group make & sell it and a the law enforcement is fully aware and frequently purchases it. The idea is that the major gangsters in Chicago etc all buy from this county. The Bondurant boys are also somewhat of a local legend with the idea that they can't be killed. They have been sole survivors of platoons being wiped out, massive sickness etc and still keep moving. Everything changes for them when a Special Deputy Rakes, played by an awesome Guy Pearce, comes to town telling all the bootleggers he's going to collect a fee or put them out of business you can smell the turf war coming. The movie has a predictable amount of gore, someone actually gets tarred and feathered. The Bondurant boys are violent as this is a time when you have to make sure you do what you need to survive. Forrest feeds right into the legend by defying death a few times in the film. Tom Hardy is great in this as Forrest, he plays this simple calm man when he has to, his ambivalence towards Maggie in the beginning, the way he grunts instead of talking he just owns this role. Shia LeBeouf on the other had isn't all that impressive. His character goes from the scared younger brother to the guy flashing new clothes and cars all over town once the brothers strike a deal with Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) and bring in much more money. He also narrates the film and at some points his southern boy accent grates.

I give this movie a Netflix. The movie is not uneven but you get the highs of the majority of the cast and Shia feels like he's bringing up the rear. The way it's marked you feel like this is his vehicle but he goes from slightly unimpressive to full on asshole you hope dies in the end. He's just not that convincing. I don't know why because I actually think he's a pretty good actor but this was painful at times and it brings down an otherwise good film.

The movie clocks in just under 2 hours. Lawless is Rated R.  


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