The trailer for Lawless was enough to convince me that a film was worth a look. This method of choosing films has a downside as it can lead to some major disappointments. Lawless was one of those disappointments.
PLOT: Set during the Prohibition Act Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) and his two brothers Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) set up a successful moonshine business. After Forrest is injured in an attack ordered by Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) it is up to Jack to oversee the family business. END PLOT
Lawless is based on the novel by Matt Bondurant, Jack’s grandson, but as I have not read the book I have no idea whether or not the film was an accurate portrayal of events.
The main story arc focused on Jack Bondurant however this was book-ended by opening and closing sections which focused on Forrest Bondurant.
The sudden disappearance of Forrest for large sections of the film went unexplained and was very noticeable. I will concede that Forrest was injured but he was recovered before he disappeared. There was no reason for his absence or for Jack taking over the family business and both points went unexplained.
Clocking in at 116mins Lawless was already quite long but I can’t help but wonder how heavily edited the film was as at times it felt very uneven and disjointed.
Despite the promise of the trailer Lawless was nothing more than a coming of age story for Jack Bondurant.
I am not a fan of LaBeouf and in Lawless he proved that he has two methods of acting – whining weasel and obnoxious arse.
The casting of LaBeouf in the lead role was a serious miscast as the character of Jack Bondurant required a young actor who could pull off an easy charm. Unfortunately LaBeouf is naturally devoid of any charisma and made the Jack extremely dislikeable throughout the entirety of the film.
I still can’t form an opinion on Tom Hardy but in Lawless he didn’t look comfortable. Hardy came across as awkward and dealt with his limited dialogue by adopting a weird grunting purr and he didn’t suit Forrest’s wardrobe at all. If it wasn't for Hardy's few moments with Jessica Chastain he would have been as miscast as LaBeouf.
Guy Pierce is always hit or miss and unfortunately he bordered extremely close to miss. I would have appreciated less screen time for Pierce in place of more for Gary Oldman.
Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska are two talented actresses but they were both relegated to the background. Despite hints of a back-story with Chastain’s Maggie it was never developed.
There were several violent scenes which were quite gruesome to watch however they almost felt like an after thought and the same could be said for the language. I am not against violence or swearing in films but in Lawless they just felt forced.
Lawless was never going to be a classic but poor casting and dodgy editing helped to highlight its faults. It gets a 4/10. There was potential but it was squandered at every opportunity.