Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lawless

 
Directed by John Hillcoat.
2012. Rated R, 116 minutes.
Cast:
Jason Clarke
Dane DeHaan
Chris McGarry
Tim Tolan
Noah Taylor


In Prohibition Era Franklin, Virginia legend has it that local moonshiners, The Bondurant brothers are indestructible. This is said to be especially true of Forrest (Hardy), the eldest and leader of the trio. Calling him the strong, silent type is an understatement on both counts. He’s usually flanked by Howard (Clarke), the largest of the bunch, and worried about Jack (LaBeouf), the runt of the litter. Just about everyone else in town is also in the moonshine business and business is good. It’s good enough that they’ve attracted the attention of their counterparts from the big city who send some corrupt lawmakers down to muscle in on the backwoods action. The whole town gives up without a fight, except Forrest and his brethren. Forrest not running ensues.

The main strength of Lawless is its characters. As Forrest, Tom Hardy is ridiculously good, again proving he’s among the very best actors woking today. Without mugging for the camera, his face says everything it needs to. His Forrest is clearly a man that measures his words whenever he can and has supreme confidence in himself. He actually believes that bit about being indestructible. Still, he’s very smart and doesn’t let his ego make him entirely wreckless, usually. On the other hand, baby brother Jack is pretty much the opposite: a big talker who likes to show off with fancy suits and cars. It’s a surprisingly good performance from Shia LaBeouf. Jessica Chastain, as Maggie, is also solid, as usual. So is Gary Oldman who gets way too little time on screen. However, it’s Forrest’s rival, Special Agent Rakes that steals the show. A bizarrely made up Guy Pearce does the honors. You will love to hate him.

Lawless also maintains an excellent pace. The action is often brutal and the stretches between action scenes are filled with tension and, surprisingly, humor. These attributes, combined with the wonderful cast, make this a very entertaining movie. A time, or two, ti does stretch the idea of Forrest’s invincibility incredibly thin. Other times, Howard and Maggie blend in with the furniture, not give quite enough to do. That said, it is still an incredibly watchable film that absorbs us into its fabric.

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