Heroes for a new age
Duration: 115 minutes
Directed by: John Hillcoat
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, Gary Oldman
Nick Cave, one of the greatest troubadours/musicians of our time, returns to the big screen with scriptwriting and soundtrack duties on Lawless.
The film gives one the feeling of watching a modern folk tale unfold. Adapted from the book The Wettest Country in the World by Matt Bondurant – who is the grandson of one of the main characters in the story – the film is set during the Prohibition era when alcohol was banned.
Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) are three brothers trading in illegal whisky in Franklin County. Everything seems to be on their side: the local lawmen are in their pockets and Maggie (Jessica Chastain), a girl from the city, is fronting the business, making Forrest even more self-confident.
Operations veer off course, however, when the Commonwealth Attorney wants a complete crackdown on the illegal business and brings in Special Agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) to deal with the brothers.
Jack is not afraid and wants to make a name for himself, so he decides to take the illegal drink moonshine to local gangster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman).
Soon Jack is running his own business while striving to impress Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska), the daughter of a preacher man.
But mistakes lead to some bloody confrontations.
Hard-boiled, gritty and in your face, Lawless portrays a harsh world, dominated by tough men who have no qualms in dealing with death and violence.
The film seems intent on creating iconic figures out of these anti-heroes: Pearce is the quintessential lawman while Oldman portrays the classic gangster.
Hardy, who had such a physical presence in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), is a brutal and harsh force of nature whose mere presence gives the film a sense of menace. LaBeouf is as usual cocky par excellence and he gets more than his fair share of violence aimed at him.
Hillcoat has definitely studied such iconic films as Goodfellas (1990) and Heat (1995) to deliver scene after scene with gusto.