Film Review: Tom Hardy Leads Great Cast in Disappointing ‘Lawless’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – John Hillcoat’s “Lawless,” based on Matt Bondurant’s “The Wettest County in the World,” is one of the most high profile disappointments of 2012, a film with an amazing cast that suffocates under the weight of an inconsistent script, a boring lead, and a complete lack of narrative drive. Who would have ever guessed that a movie with so many charismatic actors and actresses could ever be so shockingly dull? It’s nearly an accomplishment. Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska – any one of these wonderful actors typically makes a film better and one could easily assume that having all five of them in one ensemble would lead to dramatic gold. And yet even this level of acting talent can’t save “Lawless.” None of them do anything particularly wrong (although Pearce makes some odd choices) but they can’t save a haphazard script that doesn’t understand basic requirements of storytelling such as presenting the viewer with consistent characters instead of mere cliché. We’ve seen “Lawless” done before and done significantly better. Even with the A-list cast, it’s little more than forgettable.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Lawless” in our reviews section.

It’s 1931 in Franklin County, Virginia, known in some circles as “The Wettest County in the World” due to its abundance of illegal alcohol operations at the height of Prohibition. Crooked cops are paid to look the other way as families of bootleggers keep their families fed by getting other ones drunk. An important figurehead of this community is Forrest Bondurant (a mumbling-but-charismatic Tom Hardy), who rises to moonshine prominence with his brothers – Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf). Jack may seem the least interesting of the three as he’s the youngest and so the one often in need of rescue but he’s made the narrator here in one of many storytelling mistakes we’ll get to later.

Jack works to gain the respect of his older brothers and become as important a Bondurant as his more famous siblings. He works with a friend named Cricket (Dane DeHaan) who might as well be wearing a “Star Trek” red shirt and be named “Inevitable Victim” and he woos a local church-going girl named Bertha (Mia Wasikowska). While Jack is coming-of-age, times are getting more dangerous in Franklin County thanks to the arrival of Special Deputy Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce), a unique character sent from Chicago to clean things up. Meanwhile, notorious gangster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) crosses paths with the Bondurants and Forrest falls in love with the lovely new barmaid Maggie (Jessica Chastain).

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Lawless” review.

“Lawless” stars Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Dane DeHaan. It was written by Nick Cave and directed by John Hillcoat. It is rated R and opens on August 29, 2012.

Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions