Review: John Hillcoat's 'Lawless' Has Energy Despite Imperfect Script

Families surviving in harsh conditions. You can’t say director John Hillcoat doesn’t have a type. The fly-ridden, dangerous ground of the Outback in The Proposition and the cold, grey surroundings of The Road kept the characters in his previous films prepared for the worst but fighting for the best. The same goes for the family of bootleggers in Lawless, his latest.  The dangers they face are more focused, a special agent and his authorities, but the film remains a violent and realistic depiction of the time. Not as firmly carried out in the film's screenplay, Lawless is still solid drama about harsh people in harsh times.

Based on the novel The Wettest County in the World, the harsh brothers at the center of this rustic tale are the real-life Bondurants; Jack, Forrest, and Howard played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke, respectively. Jack was the author Matt's grandfather and the youngest of the siblings, all growing up and living with the illegal moonshine trade in Franklin County, Virginia. While living up to the "legend" surrounding their name, the brothers are content cutting a small notch in the business that makes gangsters in the much larger cities celebrities and millionaires. But when a special deputy, played by Guy Pearce, from Chicago shows up in their country town, the grip from the law begins to tighten on the brothers. Not wishing to go quietly, the brothers stand up against the corrupt deputy and anyone else who decides to step in their way. Read More.

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