For anyone that might imagine it being tough to make a family of hillbilly criminals into a little gang of heroic freedom fighters, Lawless makes it feel like an obvious outcome with its cast of misfits, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke and Tom Hardy. However, it’s the malevolent presence of Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3) as the movie’s central antagonist that brings it all together so seamlessly, as he puts in the baddy performance of a life time.
Having hit the cinema back in August 2012 with a relatively successful run, it went on to make it’s way to DVD, digital download and Blu-ray on the 14th January 2014 losing nothing in the balance. It makes for a great film to watch from the comfort of your home as you’re transported back to prohibition era Franklin County, Virginia, USA for the real life story of three bothers, Forest, Howard and Jack Bondurant, as they stand up to a ferocious and corrupt new addition to the local sheriff’s office.
The newcomer is Special Deputy Charles Rake who sweeps into town with a proposition for all of the moonshine producers in the county, including the brothers, to continue to operate as long as they pay a cut to him and his associate, Commenwealth Attorney Mason Wardell. When elder brother Forest refuses all hell breaks loose and the scene is set for an almighty battle between the two opposing sides, which reached fever pitch almost instantly and doesn’t let up until the final faltering footsteps of the losing faction.
The nasty side of the equation is counteracted by the wildly likeable three bothers, each with their own unique character traits, building off the true story that inspired the film. Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)) is as grizzly as ever as the head of the indestructible family, with Jason Clarke (Terminator Genysis) doing a pretty good job of pulling of the wild and careless drunkard middle brother Howard and Shia LaBeouf (Fury) turning his youthful enthusiasm into the ambition of younger brother Jack.
There’s also strong performances from Jessica Chastain (Interstellar) as a runaway dancer from Chicago who takes up a job tending the bar at the brother’s gas station and Mia Wasakowska (The Double) who delivers a good combination of rebellious teen meets pastor’s daughter. Gary Oldman, who has starred alongside Hardy previously in The Dark Knight Rises and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011), may have a bit of a back seat role in the movie, only cropping up a couple of times as the Chicago-based mob boss Floyd Banner, but what he does he does well, adding even more period credibility to Lawless. Dane DeHaan (Tulip Fever) also crops up as Jack’s friend Chricket Pate, doing well to make the role convincing.
It’s all tied together with a solid screenplay from Nick Cave and flawless direction from John Hillcoat, who adds another gritty entry to his fine work on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road back in 2009. Cave is also responsible for a brilliant soundtrack score along with fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis, which includes a cool bluegrass rendition of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat.
If you’re looking for a hard hitting action drama then you can’t go too far wrong with the Lawless DVD. It’s definitely a few viewing in it if you’re looking to add to your collection and we reckon it’ll start to pick up a certain cult status over the years, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, we can’t recommend it enough.
Lawless DVD review: 4.4/5