Lawless (2012)

Starring: Shia LaBoeuf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman

Directed by: John Hillcoat

R. 115 mins

A story with great potential that is squandered because of poor narrative and flawed characterization which results in a gruesome tale that holds no significance outside the small-town setting. Based on Matt Bondurant’s novel, Lawless tells the story of his infamous family who made quite the living making and selling moonshine in Prohibition-Era Virginia. As crime levels hit an all-time high, their loyalty is tested and plenty of blood is shed. Much like Hillcoat’s previous efforts (The Proposition, The Road), this feature is very grim and rife with violence that really strikes a visceral chord but there’s no feeling behind it all. While the performances are strong, there is something inauthentic about the whole thing and it’s difficult to view any of these men as the ‘heroes’ the story claims them to be. Lawless looks like it should, but the film is surprisingly lifeless as it slowly boils on and on – * * 1/2



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