Reteaming with his unlikely Proposition screenwriter, Bad Seeds rocker Nick Cave, Hillcoat again delivers a quasi-Western with this true tale of the Prohibition-era’s bootlegging Bondurant brothers in Virginia, played by Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) and Shia LaBeouf (the Transformers trilogy).
When Lawless begins, the Bondurant boys rule Franklin County as liquid royalty. That is threatened immediately on two fronts, by people who want to muscle in on their market: one represents the law (Guy Pearce, Lockout), while the other is a ruthless gangster (Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight Rises).
Also diverting their focus’ enterprise: women. For Hardy’s character, it’s their bar’s new waitress, the sultry, sexy Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty); for LaBeouf’s, it’s the local preacher’s mousy daughter (Mia Wasikowska, The Kids Are All Right), who washes his feet in church until he vomits.
As you may have noticed by now, the film boasts an extraordinary cast and also LaBeouf. He’s not in the league of the others, so it is unfortunate that his part is the largest among the ensemble. —Rod Lott