by Gus Constantellis
“Lawless” is a phenomenally acted Western about brotherhood, prohibition and the power of legends. While the story sometimes feels muddled and inconsistent, the film finds its way back, and provides a fun-filled, edgy look at the 1930s.
The opening scenes and soundtrack describe “Lawless” perfectly, as the audience is immediately introduced to the cool, fun-filled nature of the film. The main three characters, the Bondurant brothers, are painted seamlessly in these first few scenes, even though the story takes off very slowly. Regardless, the beginning of “Lawless” is great at playing up different tones, as it toys around with lighthearted moments, as well as serious, extremely violent scenes.
Not until the second half do the many storylines and plot points come together and merge unexpectedly. The first half is burdened by unnecessary, seemingly random shots and scenes, while the second half ties the story together thematically, particularly the theme of “legends.” Even though the Bondurant brothers are bootleggers of moonshine, their existence as “legends” make them adored by their hometown and the city of Chicago.
“Lawless” depicts its time period wonderfully, with fantastic design and attention to detail. Everything down to the buttons and shoes feels fitting in every way. The violence in the film is also remarkable. It holds nothing back when it comes to punches, gunshots, stabs or sliced necks, and as a result, feels real and truly affecting.
Additionally, the acting is flawless and each person is perfectly cast. Tom Hardy, as Forrest Bondurant, is remarkable. Hardy steals every scene he is in even if all he does in the scene is grunt or stare. He is thrilling to watch, and could have held the film together by himself. Shia LaBeouf, as Jack Bondurant, is wonderful as well. His innocent naivety is played perfectly until he finally fights back, and becomes a legend of his own. Guy Pearce, as the antagonist, is absolutely disgusting in the best way possible.
“Lawless” is fun, exciting and great to watch. It is truly engrossing and perfectly acted. Whenever the story lacks, the violence and characters take over, and provide a fascinating look at the legend of the Bondurant brothers.
Gus Constantellis is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.