Based on a true story, Lawless is about the infamous bootlegging siblings, the Bondurant Brothers, who were notorious in prohibition-era Virginia. When a new deputy comes into town, these brothers are threatened, putting their loyalty and livelihood to the test. John Hillcoat's prohibition tale is a gritty, violent drama that has its moments but never reaches the heights of his earlier films from either an atmosphere or storytelling perspective. This is a solid film, with great performances all around, especially Tom Hardy, as Forrest Bondurant, clearly the man who is ultimately in charge of their whole operation. Hardy demands every scene he is in with his intense, piercing presence. He is a brutal character, whose cold demeanor doesn't grasp the concept of intimacy. His character is a great contrast to his youngest brother Jack, who personifies innocence in the film. In a way, Lawless is a coming of age film for Jack and Shia LaBeouf impresses in the role. A complaint against the quality of the movie is unfair, but I was disappointed in how little screen time was allotted to Gary Oldman's Floyd Banner, a gangster who also ultimately threatens the Bondurants. The love story between Jack and Bertha feels unnecessary but it does strengthen the innocence of Jack's story. Ultimately, I wish the film spent more time establishing the world of the film, really giving the viewer time to explore and get accustomed to the Bondurant's operation. Hardy's Forrest was the most interesting character in the entire film and I wish he was the central character. Lawless is a good, not great film that is kinda disappointing given it's John Hillcoat, but still worth your time.
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