LAWLESS (Alliance, 2012) D: John Hillcoat, w/ Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NNN Rating: NNN
It's 1931, with Prohibition and the Great Depression in full swing. Everybody in Franklin County, Virginia, makes moonshine and sells it to the gangsters in the city. Things go along fine until a state politico decides to cut himself in and sends down sadistic thug Charlie Rakes to muscle the locals into line. The Bondurant brothers refuse to lie down, and gang war erupts.
Director John Hillcoat turns this true story into a realistic period piece and closely observed character drama, with the underlying tension and eruptions of violence of a doomed-outlaw flick.
Smart, subtle performances keep us fully engaged. Tom Hardy exudes contained power and emotional awkwardness as Forrest Bondurant, the brothers' leader. He has trouble with the ambition and timidity of youngest brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf). Howard (Jason Clarke), the third brother, is a violent drunk. None of them looks like a match for larger-than-life Rakes (Guy Pearce).
Matt Bondurant, grandson of the real Jack Bondurant, shares the commentary with Hillcoat, filling in details about his family and the differences between reality and the movie.
EXTRAS Director and Bondurant commentary, making-of interviews, two historical docs. English, French audio and subtitles.