I’ll just say this now, I’m never going to get on Tom Hardy’s bad side. That guy is ripped! His shoulders alone have more muscle than my entire body. Just over a year ago, no one (in America) even knew who this guy was. Now he has the character Bane under his belt, not to mention great roles in Inception and Warrior. I choose not to talk about his contractual romantic comedy, This Means War. I really think both Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender (not in this film) are quickly on their way to becoming the new heavy hitters in Hollywood.
Lawless, which was once called the Wettest County in the World, has a ridiculous title. What’s up with bad titles lately? Between Premium Rush and The Possession, you think these guys are coming up with the blandest titles they can on purpose.
Lawless follows 3 brothers, Howard (Jason Clarke), Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Jack (Shia Lebouf) Bondurant. They run a backwoods moonshine operation in the height of the prohibition era. They have an uneasy relationship with the law until a new Special Deputy Rakes (Guy Pearce) comes to town to take the brothers down. At the same time, Shia (let’s just call his character Shia too) wants to play a bigger role in the operation with his older brothers, all while trying to juggle his courtship to the preacher’s daughter.
First let’s talk about Shia. I would say that 70% of my friends would not see this movie strictly because it has Mr Lebouf. To those people I say, Listen, quit blaming the kid for the Transformers movies. I think he blames himself enough for those and Indiana Jones 4.
|Doesn’t he look sorry?|
I think that’s part of the reason he has sworn off big budget films. He wants people to stop hating him for some reason. And yes, he is having a Cat Stevens phase but that might pass. He carries Lawless. The trailer doesn’t show this, but he is the lead. And I thought he did a great job. As the younger brother with something to prove he always looked vulnerable. In fact, during most of his scenes I was tense. I felt that way because Guy Pearce’s freak of a character was always waiting somewhere to cause pain. I look forward to his indie roles, but at the same time hope that doesn’t mean he’s just going to be in dark moody flicks. The guy can act, even if he does say “No no no no!” a lot.
I’ve already mentioned Tom Hardy’s greatness. The role of Forrest requires him to be understated. He plays the muscle and brains of the outfit, but there’s something a little off about him. His voice is the movie is very memorable. Just close your eyes when he speaks and you’ll hear Wilford Brimley threatening to kill some folk. Then open them and you’ll see Hardy wearing a cardigan in every scene. (I now fear men in cardigans).
Speaking of killing. There is a lot of heavy violence. And I’m not talking about gun violence. It’s fisticuff brawling, throat-cuttin’, neck-breaking violence. The director, John Hillcoat, is well-known for his darker movies (The Road and The Proposition). He films this as if it’s a western set in the 1930’s but when you see the first acts of violence you can’t help but feel tension. Even the quiet happy scenes, you feel that something terrible is going to happen right around the corner. The best way I can describe it is the way you feel when you hear the Joker’s subtly-piercing violin music in The Dark Knight.
I really got into this movie. I don’t know if it was the setting or great acting but it took me by surprise. It’s not perfect. Some of the dialogue and consequences are hard to swallow, but I would recommend this to film fans like myself who get in the mood for a heavy film every once in a while. I don’t think I’ll watch this movie more than twice but I’m glad I saw it. For the general audience, this is a very strong rental. Who knows, maybe you’ll like Shia again.