During the prohibition era in a small town in Virginia, three brothers make a living selling moonshine illegally. The Proposition duo of director John Hillcoat and writer/composer Nick Cave re-team to create an exciting, exploitative western that both revels in its b-movie ham and stands out as an original, classic story. With a very impressive cast comprised of Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, and a brief couple scenes featuring one of my personal favorites, Gary Oldman, this film should have been a fun time at the movies. Unfortunately the producer or someone made a huge mistake and let Shia LaBeouf onto the project and with just one bad actor (albeit the lead actor) the whole movie crumbles.
The problems with Shia’s acting, however, don’t reveal themselves within the first half of the film. Shia plays Jack Bondurant, a timid young runt-of-the-litter brother to Forest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke). For the first half of the movie Jack is a coward character who just wants his brothers to take him seriously in their moonshine business. One day a crooked cop by the name of Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) rolls into town and demands from the brothers a more than sizeable stake in their profits. Naturally the brothers don’t want to give up any more money than they have to, so they refuse and violence ensues.
Being a fan of Tom Hardy ever since seeing him in Bronson (although I had seen him in Star Trek: Nemesis, I, like most people probably, thought nothing of him at the time) I’ve been excited to see what he chooses to do next and have been very happy this year with both his performance in this movie, as well as the most recent Batman movie. After having an extremely depressing time seeing Prometheus earlier this summer I was relieved to see that Guy Pearce was still trying. He gives his character a goofy slapstick flamboyancy that plays perfectly in tone with the movie’s lighthearted tribute to b-westerns. Although I’ve only just now become aware of Jason Clarke, he does a pretty good job in the movie and is able to hold his own with Hardy much better than Shia. I’m excited to see what he does next in both The Great Gatsby and Zero Dark Thirty. Check this movie out if you’re a fan of Hardy and can enjoy some quasi-exploitative fun.
Lawless opens today in theaters nationwide.