Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lawless Review - 2½ Stars

“Lawless” tells the story of the legendary Bondurant Brothers of Franklin County, Virginia:  rebels who ran a country store and a large moonshine business on the side during prohibition — and lived to tell the tale.  I say lived to tell the tale because they endure beatings, stabbings, throat slittings, and gunshots during the course of this often outrageously violent movie.  However “Lawless” rises above the usual thanks to an excellent cast.  Shia LaBeouf, Tom hardy, and Jason Clarke play the brothers.  The excellent Guy Pearce adds menace as a delicious villain—a crooked lawman who proposes the boys pay him protection money.  Instead they go to war.  “Lawless” adds Jessica Chastain as Tom Hardy’s love interest and Mia Wasikowska for Shia LeBeouf.  Chastain returns to escape her big city life only to have her dangerous past follow her.  Wasikowska—so memorable in “The Kids are All Right”— plays a shy but rebellious minister’s daughter who gradually warms to Shia despite her father’s disapproval.  The great Gary Oldman turns in a nice bit as a renown gangster who forms a partnership with the boys.  The R rating comes for a lot of violence and some nudity by Jessica Chastain.  Sometimes “Lawless” feels a little iffy especially as Shia channels the same old character from “Transformers”.  Other times “Lawless” catches fire, particularly when Tom Hardy’s on screen.  Toward the end the narrator revels the rest of the story of the family quieter life after prohibition.  Then you realize that somehow the filmmakers have made you care about this clan.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Gangster prohibition redneck rebel story.  Is it entertaining?  Most of the time.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Not bad.