5 of 5 stars
When the law becomes corrupt, outlaws become heroes. Set during Prohibition and the tail end of the Depression, lifelong friends Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) and Cricket Pate (Dane Dehaan) make a living bootlegging raw moonshine to their neighbors and the mob; all while struggling to stay one step ahead of the law and keep a sense of ethics and pride. With Forrest’s brutal defiance paired with Crickets’s brilliance at brewing moonshine, the pair’s business quickly raises above all the other Franklin bootleggers. Just when all seems to be running fine, Franklin County law enforcement gets a new special deputy, Charlie Rakes (Guy Pierce), determined to stop Franklins flow of moonshine and kill its brewers. One by one Franklin’s thugs are tortured or killed by Rakes and his crew of crooked cops, until Cricket and Forrest are all that’s left. In need of extra help, Forrest lets his timid little brother Jack (Shia LeBeouf) in on the moonshining business. By dumb luck, Forrest gets severely wounded just as Rakes begins closing in on the Bondurant brother’s operation, forcing tentative Jack to somehow take his place for the time being. Can Jack fill Forrest’s shoes? Or will Rakes shutdown the Bondurant’s whole operation and kill them both?
I didn’t walk into the theater with very high hopes for “Lawless”, it just seemed too cliché, Like the usual western pair punching their way through the law, little did I know my mind was about to be blown. Based on the 2009 novel “The Wettest County in the World” authored by Forrest’s grandson, “Lawless” is flawless. I’m not very familiar with director John Hillcoat, but he did a terrific job. Rarely is there a film that caries itself as well as “Lawless”, the intensity doesn’t let up one bit, its completely unpredictable. The acting too, was flawless. I was excited for Guy Pierce and Tom Hardy, however I didn’t think there was any way Shia LeBeouf would pull of hard-core bootlegger Jack Bondurant due to his long line of disappointing recent releases and acing. But I stand corrected; he pulled it off with flying colors. Despite LeBeouf’s stunning performance, Tom Hardy stole the spotlight 100%. I was excited for Hardy but I never guessed he would give us such as mind boggling performance. I could almost taste the filthy, emotionally scarred, povertystricken man forced to brew moonshine to get along. The action scenes are what really hit home with me though, I would get so excited each time I saw Forrest approach a threat touting his muscles and brass knuckles. Unfortunately with the massive summer blockbusters drawing to an end, and I’m fairly certain “Lawless” is the last jaw dropper of the year (except for “Skyfall”, releasing in November); so if you find yourself with some spare time on your hands go get one last bite out of summer and wave the good stuff goodbye. I can confidently say “Lawless” has been one of the best films of the year, even surpassing “The Dark Knight Rises”. On a scale of evening price, matinee price, wait for it on DVD, or skip it; I can solidly rate it “evening price”, and 5 out of 5 stars.