Lawless is another one of those Hollywood depression era films, with a cast of appealing stars to try and interpret a true story. We get introduced to Franklin County, Virginia circa 1931, when a bootlegging gang of brothers is threatened by a violent new deputy and his fellow deputies who want in on the profits. Directed by John Hillcoat, his follow up to The Road and The Proposition just does not compare to those other two films, and along with him for the ride is someone who has helped him with the writing in the past singer Nick Cave. In the past, the pair showed with The Proposition, they can really create a well written and acted film that will win over even the harshest critic. Lawless has one huge main problem up front, it felt incomplete in both it’s acting and storytelling. It did not feel like a true story, it felt like an over exaggerated excuse to play good guys and bad guys. While in film, I am always fine with a concept about some brothers trying to make a living, and then having to stand up against authority.
The brothers in this film are played by Jason Clarke, Tom Hardy and Shia Lebeouf. Though, I did like Bane in this summerâ€™s Batman, I am still not sold on Hardy yet as an actor. His resume so far has been all over the map, and when he has no one to really save him he seems to go into this overacting realm that really makes him look silly. And, Shia cannot save anyone from any kind of acting issue, because all his films seem like made for tv nick at night films. Shia, was the wrong fit for this film. He is not made for adult drama and action films; he is made for childrenâ€™s film or sci fi unbelievably. Jason Clarke was so wasted along with Guy Pearce who we just watched the other night in Lockout, and I was saying god Guy needs more acting roles, now I want to say he needs better acting roles.
The pacing of this film was all over the place, and the script felt amateurish, and I will not spoil the way this film ends but I will say, it was a huge letdown. The acting in this film was at times very bad, not so much bad to the point it could be good as you watch it more, but bad to the point of these characters feel like they are going thru a script reading and rehearsing more than making a film. The violence in this film was ok to a point, I mean Shia takes a pretty good ass whipping, but when it comes to time to sell it to his brothers, it looked like they were trying hard not to laugh or flub a line. I think my dislike of this film was the fact that I saw all the people involved and wanted this to be Oscar worthy or blow me away. You got all those above mentioned along with Gary Oldman and etc. though I am going to give it credit for how brutal and bloody it does get. I think the film is not the worst film I have seen this year, but it is far from being anything I would watch again.
Lawless had great potential and at times I felt it was trying hard to make the viewer uneasy with the scenes of violence it gives you. I would say if you are interested in seeing this film, maybe you will like the violence and forgive the flaws.
4 out of 10