Lawless (Review)

Published on August 31st, 2012

Grade: B-

The new film Lawless hits theaters this weekend. The prohibition era “true” story stars several high caliber actors like Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, and Shia Labeouf (whose caliber is debatable.)

Lawless tells the story of the Bondurant brothers who were bootleggers in Franklin County during prohibition. They were legends in Franklin and in their own minds. Hardy’s character especially buys into the families reputation for being invincible. When the Brothers refuse to pay a “tax” to Charlie Rakes played by Guy Pearce, Rakes becomes determined to shut them down.

I was pretty excited to see this movie. The trailer looked so great, the cast looked stacked, and the story seemed interesting enough. So I made the mistake of setting my expectations high, and Lawless did not live up to them. Out of everything I’ve seen this year, this was the biggest let down for me.

The story was slow, so very slow. It started out pretty good, the boys running their hooch around and making deliveries. Then it started to drag. Insert a scene with Gary Oldman and a Tommy Gun to try and trick the audience into thinking there’s more action in the film than there truly is. Then bounce back to the boring small town life. I would guess this is the directors attempt at balancing the movie. But by now I feel lied to. The trailer was action packed and all about how bad ass these Bondurant boys were supposed to be.

The film does have its moments, but these don’t really make up for its short comings. It sounds terrible, but there was something incredibly satisfying about watching Shia’s character get his face beat in. The director obviously wants us to care about the Bondurant brothers, but it’s difficult to sympathize with characters we don’t ever truly get to know.

The movie does prove just how talented Hardy actually is. With minimal dialog his character is the one the audience will like the most. Which is just a testament to how talented he is. Gary Oldman has the same kind of talent, but it’s totally wasted in this film. His character gets such little screen time, he may as well be a cameo.

The director however does paint the true colors of one character brilliantly. Guy Pearce is completely unlikeable as Rakes. He will make you want to stab the man on screen yourself. If there was an award for best antagonist, no doubt he would deserve a nomination.

The sad fact of the matter is, that overall, I was unimpressed with the film. It was okay, in fact, some parts I really enjoyed. But it was just too long and too uneventful. I wanted more action, I wanted these boys to be the “bad asses” of Franklin County they were advertised as.  I wish the movie industry would realize a movie doesn’t have to be 2 hours to be good. A tighter edit of Lawless might have been for the better. Oh and stop giving the farm away in the trailers.

I don’t think I’d go see this one again. Maybe I’ll give it another chance when it hits Redbox.

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