14. Lawless (R) - Runtime: 116 minutes
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke
Director: John Hillcoat
Writer: Nick Cave
I don't know why I get so excited for gangster/crime movies. Most of them end up being boring for me - I can never tell who's who and what's really happening. The dialogue and plot can get so convoluted that even with the subtitles on, I can't comprehend. But I had faith in this movie - number 14! I think the main reason was because of Nick Cave as the writer. The last time he wrote a movie was The Proposition with Guy Pearce and I thought that was a brilliant western film when I really at the time didn't care for the genre. So I was hoping that he could bring the same awesome sauce to the gangster film. While the movie has its moments, it largely ends up being a snooze fest in my opinion.
Set during the Depression in Virginia, the Bondurant brothers run a pretty successful bootlegging operation. But then Guy Pearce shuffles onto the scene as Charlie Rakes, the new sheriff, demanding a bigger cut of the profits. It's up to the brothers to make sure they take care of their own and make damn sure that Rakes gets outta town. The story is narrated by LaBeouf, who does a decent job of not being annoying Shia LaBeouf throughout the movie. But he seems to have the worst perspective to tell this story. He's the youngest brother, Jack, and can't be trusted to handle such manly business. The main problem with the movie is that it would have been much more dramatic had they not presented the story through Jack's point of view. The movie would have been much more riveting had there been no narration and more emphasis on Tom Hardy's character, Forrest.
He's the main thrust of the movie - the brother who holds a lot of respect in town and controls every aspect of the business. Plus he gets beat up and shot and stabbed a whole lot - the dude is such a badass. But here we go again - the main problem with his character is Tom Hardy's performance. I could not understand half of what he was saying. He mumbles and grumbles through most every line and if it weren't for subtitles, I wouldn't have understood half the movie! I love Tom Hardy, but he almost got too into character for this one.
As for the rest of the performances, they're okay. Guy Pearce really hams it up as the obsessed neat freak sheriff. And Gary Oldman does a fantastic job of playing a big city mob boss, but gets only 15 minutes of screen time. I don't even know why the character is in the movie - he adds very little to the narrative and offers a motivation for Jack to aspire to be a mobster - but nothing beyond that. Jessica Chastain shows up as the love interest and you do get to see her topless (bonus! With Tom Hardy!), but the sex scene is awkward and dirty (as in germs dirty, no sexy dirty! Minus! Tom Hardy is fully dressed and not sexy for all you ladies watching) - it just seems like another wasted character
While I wouldn't say you should never see this movie, it's really not worth your time unless you're really into bootlegging. Or Jessica Chastain. If you're into Tom Hardy, well, you'll probably find him a little less attractive after this movie. It's a slow story that plods along and doesn't really get interesting at any point. I'm ashamed I put this so high on my list.
Rating: Not Worth Paying For!