Based on the fictionalized tales surrounding actual moonshine-making siblings, “Lawless” is a gritty Prohibition-era gangster flick, centering on the chaos escalating in a sleepy Virginia county. The Bondurant brothers—Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke), and Jack (Shia LaBeouf)—are visited by the corrupt Special Deputy Rakes (Guy Pearce), who’s been demanding cuts from the county’s bootleggers.
Written by singer-songwriter
and directed by Australian filmmaker John Hillcoat, the oft-grim “Lawless” is inspired by the book “The Wettest County in the World,” authored by the siblings’ grandchild Matt Bondurant. Nick Cave
Portraying the Bondurants as a tight band with contrasting personalities, the film shines on universal familial aspects. The Bondurants are galvanized in the face of impending judgment, uncowering rebels in an increasingly numbing, topsy-turvy world.
The clear-cut villain, Rakes is a hateful adversary, glaring with despicable smugness. Pearce is magnificent as the well-dressed but eerie character, the ultimate embodiment of urban blight and corruption. He becomes more disgusting with every appearance, and you can’t wait for him to get his just desserts.
“Lawless” is pretty by-the-numbers and mechanical, but is nonetheless solid and complemented by its well-chosen actors. Hardy, Pearce and LeBeouf are especially textured and absorbing, while Gary Oldman has a smaller, darkly comic character that still makes his remarkable presence known.
“Lawless” is an Ayala Cinemas exclusive.