Review: Lawless


  • Starring:  Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye), Tom Hardy (Warrior), Guy Pearce (The Count of Monte Cristo), and more.
  • Directed by: John Hillcoat (The Road)
  • Synopsis: “LAWLESS is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic outlaw tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant’s family in his novel “The Wettest County In The World”, the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave.”
  • Rated: Rated R for language, strong and bloody violence, nudity and sexuality.
  • Trailer:

Remember the Prohibition era in the U.S.? No? Me either! ha. The majority of us weren’t even alive when the consumption of alcohol was condemned by the law. Lawless, a drama placed in the time period, is a fantastically composed film with a true story as its basis and a great cast to go with. An amazing cast starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, Jason Clarke and several others with an impressive mix of action, drama and light comedy makes Lawless a time period movie with a cast that deserves laud and praise.

Lawless succeeds in presenting a balanced story based on the 2008 novel “The Wettest County in the World” (which actually is an historical novel based on the account of the author Matt Bondurant’s grandfather and great-uncles). From engrossing drama to bloody violence, Lawless keeps the attention of its viewers throughout. Be advised, it is rated “R” for reasons of strong bloody violence, nudity, sexuality, and language…a non-sugarcoated presentation of the novel’s story of the bootlegging Bondurant brothers.

In Lawless, a trio of brothers, the Bondurants, keep the supply of moonshine to their local communities flowing and fight to keep their business and well-being afloat once the newly appointed law (Guy Pearce) arrives and brings his own brand of evil, opposition, ill-will and justice down upon them. Pearce delivers as the despicable special deputy pent on taking down the legendary Bondurant brothers of lore and grit (Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf). It is their performances that really make the film all the more captivating.

Yes…I included Shia LaBeouf in that statement. Despite what some may say about him and his recent poor choice of film roles (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Transformers 2…and 3, etc), Shia did an excellent job as the film’s main point-of-view character and narrator.

Of course, everyone did phenomenally well in their roles. I cannot rave enough about the cast and how each contributed appropriately to the film’s impressive delivery of the tale. They quickly reel you in and attach you to the characters and their stories quite proficiently. And let me tell you, Tom Hardy is quickly becoming more and more one of my favorite actors in Hollywood right now!

Check out this quick clip of the two of them (LaBeouf and Hardy) as Hardy’s character, Forrest, lectures LaBeouf’s character, the youngest brother Jack.

Some pretty solid performances all around!

A couple of unsung performances of note (aside from Hardy, Chastain, LaBeouf, Oldman and Pearce):

Dane DeHaan -Some may recognize him from Chronicle

Dane DeHaan as Cricket Pate (The BONDurant’s “Q”)

Jason Clarke -Some may recognize him from the cop drama tv series The Chicago Code

Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant

They both served as perfect additions to an already stellar cast. I’m telling you, the cast in this film, paired with the action and drama and good ol’ American folklore, legend and history makes this film the great (though perhaps under-appreciated) watching experience that it is. Those of you wanting a good tale of revenge and survival, watch Lawless. Don’t expect it to be all “Boondock Saints” and whatnot, but it is a fantastic film.

It would be a crime to not add Lawless to your list of Must-See movies of 2012.

 Score:  4 out of 5 stars for Lawless

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer


  1. Firstly, Bertha is not Amish. She is part of the Mennonite religion.

    Secondly, Howard is the eldest brother. Forrest is the middle brother. Did you not listen to the start of the film where Jack is telling us about the brothers and their history?


    • well…thanks for pointing out those parts of the synopsis. I found that the synopsis previously used above was an earlier one that I have since replaced with a more current one from the site’s official page.

      aside from the possibly slightly erroneous earlier synopsis…do you have any thoughts to share on the movie itself or the review?


  2. I’m still curious enough to see this T, and your review confirms that it’s worth seeing. I just decided it might be too violent for me to see on the big screen. I just can’t handle those as much as I used to.


  3. I saw it, too, recently, and I quite liked it! Great performances all around and I totally agree about the two unsung heroes, they were great (I kept asking myself during the screening where do I know Cricket from, now I know)


  4. Yours and mine Reviews are more or less polar opposites of one another. Making me want to further revisit the film. Although, everything you say here, is honestly what I was expecting going into the movie. In hindsight, those high expectations might’ve ruined the experience for me.

    Nonetheless, I will revisit and see how I feel after a 2nd viewing. I just really dislike LeBeouf! 😐


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