Bootlegging is a bloodthirsty business

‘Lawless’ review

By C.M. Rivera, Contributor


Director John Hillcoat did a fantastic job with his latest film, Lawless. Hillcoat’s previous films include the widely acclaimed The Proposition (2005), the film adaptation of The Road (2009), and a number of music videos.  Although I haven’t seen his previous movies, this one was satisfyingly bloody and suspenseful. If you like blood, gore, and lots of action, this movie’s for you.

Lawless is based on the 2008 novel, The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, which is inspired by a true story. In 1930s Virginia, during the prohibition era, the Bondurant brothers ran an illegal alcohol business. Tom Hardy, fresh off the Dark Knight Rises train, plays Forrest, the tough invincible leader of the brothers’ bootlegging business. Howard (Jason Clarke) supports Forrest by keeping people sweet with his knuckle brass fist. And Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the youngest brother, struggles to make a place for himself in the business.

The brothers are considered legends in their small town because of their ability to survive, and they’ve come to believe their own legend. The brothers become reckless, and keep running their business even after corrupt special agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) is called into town to stop the brothers’ bootlegging business An all-out war ensues with the town’s occupants stuck in the crossfire.

There are a couple of romantic scenes between the preacher’s daughter, Bertha (Mia Wasikowska), and Jack, though this didn’t overpower all the gang fighting. Jessica Chastain also stars as Maggie, an ex-fangirl from Chicago trying to get away from trouble, but lands right in it by falling for Forrest.

In the end, Jack has transformed into a much darker, more disturbing version of himself. But after all the bloodthirsty fights, the film ends on a bittersweet note that nonetheless wraps everything up nicely.

Lawless is a ferocious movie with some incredible actors. With all the blood and gore, the film could’ve easily been a cheesy ultraviolent free-for-all, but the execution and its powerful portrayals made the horrors reach the viewer in a different way. Guy Pearce especially played the maniacal special police agent well, capturing the right amount of madness for the character. The plot was also well constructed, with some scenes difficult to watch, but a good amount of comedy and romance properly dispersed to lighten up the mood. This movie has everything from throat slicing to segregation to even young love, and it’s definitely worth viewing