My expectations were sky high for this movie. I had heard a lot of good things about this movie before I saw it. Well respected reviewer Richard Roeper said it was an Oscar caliber movie and a few of my favorite YouTube movie reviewers really liked it as well. Another thing that got me excited was the cast. I remember first seeing the poster for this movie and smiling at all the great names on that list. This movie has some of the biggest names and greatest actors of these past few years. I was extremely excited. Did Lawless live up to my expectations? Well... yes and no.
Before I begin my reviewing of this movie let me first give a quick summary. So Lawless is the true story on the infamous Virginia bootleggers the Bondurant brothers. However this film mainly follows from the point of view of the youngest brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf). He is looking to impress his old brothers Forrest and Howard (Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke) so that he can be allowed to help the bootlegging business besides driving the getaway car. Also the whole Bondurant operation is threatened when a new deputy from Chicago enters town (Guy Pearce).
Now on with the review! When talking about a movie I believe mentioning the good in a movie (if there is any) before mentioning the bad so that's where I will start.
There was a fair share of good, even great things in this movie, mainly the acting. Tom Hardy has never before let me down and still continues to impress me. He is quickly becoming one of the hottest actors in Hollywood and he was excellent as the tough, intimidating brother Forrest that has a surprising kindness in him, especially towards women. That's why he wins the heart of former city girl Maggie who is brilliantly played by Jessica Chastain. Like Hardy she to is quickly becoming a big name in Hollywood mainly thanks to her likeable personality and characters. Guy Pearce was great as well but I was a little disappointed and found his character to cartoonish. Although Shia LaBeouf was the weakest of the bunch he was still tolerable and it was good to see him expand his range to make us forget about his performance in the Transformers movies.
Aside from the acting director John Hillcoat, who has directed really good movies like The Road and The Proposition, again does a great job at transporting us to a time that we aren't familiar with. After walking out of the theater I was expecting to see dirt roads and a few Model T's driving on them.
On a smaller note this film had really great visuals that I will not forget for some time. These impressive but not flashy visuals really captured the essence of the time period of this film. There is one in particular involving a killing that takes place in a short tunnel during the daytime that is gorgeous and very creative.
Now on to the bad in this movie. Before I start I will point out that I think this film had more good than bad. Many of the problems in this film are directly linked to the way this film was presented before it came out. From the trailer it looked like it was going to have a lot of action but cold still be taken quite seriously. Although there is a few scenes with really good action it's still not as much as I was expecting and because of that this movie felt a bit boring and slow in parts. I saw this movie because of the cool action and the actors not a period piece on bootlegging in Virginia. Also it seemed to me like Gary Oldman and Jessica Chastain were going to be in it a lot when in reality Gary Oldman was in it for two scenes and Jessica Chastain was not used enough given her talent.
Another negative thing was that Shia LaBeouf was the lead role. It had nothing really to do with his acting but the fact that his character was less likeable and good as some of the other side roles. Whenever he was on screen by himself I wanted that scene to hurry up and get back to Tom Hardy. Shia LaBeouf was greatly overshadowed by his supporting cast.
All in all I had a lot of fun watching this movie. It was well acted, well directed and most of the time very enjoyable. It does have its slow part but it's a period piece. All period pieces have slow parts. I give this film a B-. It might have been a higher rating if my expectations weren't so high.
Have you seen Lawless yet? If you did let me know what you thought of it.