Premise: Three brothers in the 1920s (played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy [BANE], and some other guy) are all bootleggers from Virginia in what is declared "the wettest county in the world" during the Prohibition. Troubles start brewing (uhhhhg, unintentional pun) when an oddball detective from Chicago played by Guy Pierce gets thrown into the mix. And two love stories! Two!
-I think it's well established through this film, Dark Knight Rises, Bronson, and Inception that Tom Hardy is a total badass.
-Some of the scenes were highly stylized and great, while others felt like a History Channel made-for-TV movie. Very uneven, but this makes the Pros list because the LaBeouf drunken church/foot washing scene was the best thing in the whole movie. If the whole movie was made with that kind of flair, this would have been a masterpiece.
-Gary Oldman is good as a big city crime lord, but the role is smaller than anyone would like it to be. At least he hits a guy in the face with a shovel during his short screen time.
-Featured a grand array of awesome sweaters.
-I went to go use the bathroom at the beginning of what I assumed was going to be the most boring scene of the film, and when I got back and sat down in my seat, two characters were just starting a sex scene! Perfect timing!
-The backwoods setting was cool. Occasionally some interesting cinematography would pop on the screen as a result.
-I actually thought Lawless was PG-13 all the way until I was in the theater watching Gary Oldman plow a bunch of people down with a tommy gun in the first 15 minutes. Then I realized I was in for an R-rated violence fest.
-Good acting all around, even if for some reason I struggled to suspend disbelief enough that Shia LaBeouf could strike fear in anyone's heart.
-The main conflict is good, as I was often wondering who was actually going to live and die. The main characters seemed fairly disposable, despite being main characters.
-It's a neat history lesson on 1920s redneck moonshine makin'.
-Guy Pierce played an abnormally wacky character. Like he didn't really fit in the movie. He was almost a cartoon. That being said, if I may take this opportunity to point something out... Doesn't it feel like Guy Pierce has had a dozen "breakout roles" in his career, and yet he's still not really a household name? I'm kinda over Guy Pierce, just saying.
-The romance plots(s) were good and bad. They did develop the characters some, but they were also the least compelling scenes in the film (except for the drunken church/foot washing scene as mentioned in the Pros).
-Before the main conflict shows up (and a little after), the film just kind of aimlessly drifts. Not entirely a bad thing, but there were some times when I wished the story would just move along. As Milhouse Van Houten would say: "When are they going to get to the fireworks factory...?!"
-Could have done without the hokey, rushed epilogue. I didn't care enough about the characters to have them deserve epilogue treatment. Yet, it was still somehow better than the Harry Potter epilogue.
-The running time outstayed its welcome by 20 minutes.
-The film's overall color scheme of brown and tan was pretty boring. They should have splashed more color in there from time to time to keep things visually interesting.
-Let us never speak of Shia LaBeouf's southern accent again.
Final Thoughts: If we were playing a word game, and you asked me to say the first thing that came to my head when you said "Lawless": I would say "Generic!". Lawless was generically entertaining. It was generically satisfying. It failed to be spectacular on any level, while at the same time never truly disappointed. I don't know if I'd recommend it for theater viewing, but it's a worthy rental. It's a nice generic historical drama, with splashes of violence. Kind of like that Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies from a few years ago. In fact, those two films can almost be companion pieces, without actually having anything to do with each other. For now, Lawless worked for me as an entertaining little whatever, and a small fix of Prohibition era drama to hold me over until Boardwalk Empire returns in two weeks.
7 out of 10