Lawless is a movie about bootlegging during the Depression era and specifically follows a trio of brothers who are making their money off of moonshine. When the brothers refuse to pay larger bribes to the new law enforcement entities that have arrived, they find themselves butting heads with an adversary that enjoys violence almost as much as they seem to. The movie stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, and Gary Oldman shows up for a bit. It was directed by John “The Road” Hillcoat.
Lawless is a gangster movie that does not stray too far from a predictable formula, which makes it a fitting watch for the genre, but not a standout. The standout factor in the movie would be the star actor presences. Tom Hardy is fun to watch in his role and really everyone did their part in bringing the semi-shallow characters to life. Gary Oldman shows up for only two scenes, but for those two scenes he really eats up the screen in a grand fashion. Guy Pearce as the main villain of the movie, plays up the grandeur of a flamboyant Chicago gangster come to the country quite well. He is tasked with a tricky balancing act that can land some on the wrong side of parody, but I bought into it well enough. The characters themselves, however, they were very in-line formula and some people may not find themselves in the right mind to care about or really find them all that interesting. It is a cookie cutter movie and the cookies are not coming out of the oven in the end as bursting with flavor.
The plot for Lawless is predictable all the way through with the enjoyable parts happening right where you know they will and the bad parts happening right when you know they will. Basically every character that they go and try to make overly likeable in a moment, you know soon thereafter something horrible is going to befall them and the brothers are going to get mad and want to hurt people again. It is a very violent movie, but the violence becomes bland and lacks emotional connection after a little bit. There is a moment in the movie where I felt like I was being gut-punched, there WAS emotion as a character has a grisly act of violence committed against them, and when the character comes out of it not much worse for the wear it was a relief in some ways, but felt like a cop out in others. Of course the movie is supposedly based on a true story, so one cannot really fault the lack of impact certain scenes may have in regards to that aspect being a controlling factor.
Overall, Lawless is a worthy rental for gangster movie fans. Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy fans should also check it out to see their dudes at work, but ultimately Lawless does not stand out above other films in the genre in any way special, other than the names doing the acting.