Pretend you’re one of three brothers living in Virginia during the Prohibition era, owning and operating an illegal business where everyone you know is involved in some way, including the cops. Would you continue to run it no matter who or what got in your way?
The movie “Lawless,” based on a book written by Matt Bondurant (the grandson of one of the main characters in the story), follows the lives of three brothers who successfully run an illegal bootlegging moonshine distribution business. The brothers, along with a town of paying customers, keep the business on the down-low.
But one day, a special agent shows up by the name of Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce). He’s ordered by District Attorney Mason Wardell to go into the county, seize and stop production. Unfortunately for him, the three Bondurant brothers (Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, and Shia LaBeouf) like what they are doing, and refuse to give in to such counts. After all is said and done, the film follows events of what would lead up to be a violent and graphic war between both sides of the law.
Although the movie doesn’t follow the exact turn of events that happened during the actual Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy, it recollects what life and business was like during the Prohibition era. Hardy, who played the oldest brother, was brilliant. Being the leader and so-called tough guy of the group really helped him progress the story. LaBeouf, who’s known for playing his role in The Transformers Series, does a remarkable job playing the youngest brother who starts out as scared and afraid and moves up to being brave and calm when he must make a strong and worthwhile decision. Out of all the characters, however, Pearce’s role is just phenomenal. How one actor in character can build up so much anger and fury is truly remarkable.
The sense throughout the movie ranges from minor yelling and fighting to gruesome killings and murders. The makeup and special effects of just some of the things filmed was done greatly. Films like “Goodfellas” and “Inglorious Basterds” resemble just a little bit of what someone dying a graphic death might look like.
If blood and gore isn’t your thing, this movie is not for you. However, there’s more to the movie than just ghastly and gross killings.
Jessica Chastain plays the role of Maggie Beauford, a bartender/waitress originally from Chicago who helps manage the Bondurant boys’ bar. She inclines herself into a love affair relationship with the oldest boy, Forrest (Hardy). LaBeouf is also entwined into a love affair with the preacher’s daughter, Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska), with whom he likes to parade around town. That, the fun and exuberant attitude of the Bondurant brothers’ close friend Cricket Pate (Dane DeHaan), love and lust prove to play a little role in the liking of the characters.
As far as negatives go, there is close to nothing to ruin this film. The language that is spoken is a little hard to understand, and even some killing scenes flip the border on realness in this day of age. The epilogue and prologue bring it to an even level, and make up for the minor negative aspects of the film.
In the end, you will see things that will inevitably tick you off and make you cry.
However, if you decide to take in the misguided events, one thing is for sure – you won’t be disappointed with a well thought out story that will have you grasping for more when everything is said and done.