Lawless (2012)



Critic Consensus: Grim, bloody, and utterly flawed, Lawless doesn't quite achieve the epic status it strains for, but it's too beautifully filmed and powerfully acted to dismiss.

Movie Info

Lawless is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant's family in his novel "The Wettest County in the World", the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation's most notorious crime wave. -- (C) Weinstein

Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Nick Cave
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 27, 2012
Box Office: $37.4M
The Weinstein Company - Official Site


as Jack Bondurant

as Forrest Bondurant

as Howard Bondurant

as Charley Rakes

as Maggie Beauford

as Bertha Minnix

as Floyd Banner

as Mason Wardell

as Deputy Henry Abshire

as Deputy Jeff Richards

as Sheriff Hodges

as Tizwell Minnix

as Gummy Walsh

as Cricket Pane

as Hophead #1

as Hophead #2

as Jimmy Turner

as Spoons Rivard

as Ida Belle

as Young Jack

as Young Forrest

as Young Howard

as Aunt Winnie

as Doctor

as Young Black Girl

as Mugger #1

as Mugger #2

as Bootlegger #1

as Bootlegger #2

as Old Mountain Woman

as Stogie Pete
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Lawless

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Critic Reviews for Lawless

All Critics (202) | Top Critics (44)

It's slight and casual to the point of laziness, but it's straight fun, done with knowledge and a laconic pleasure. You could do far worse.

Full Review… | June 14, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

Tom Hardy must just hate being audible.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

Hillcoat makes a foray into Virginia's Prohibition-era moonshine country. But the adaptation (by Hillcoat compadre Nick Cave) is a hokey piece of pop history that wearyingly insists upon its own mythos like a comic-book blockbuster.

Full Review… | July 1, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

This fact-based drama succeeds because of its great cast and its strong story of loyalty and brotherhood.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

The movie is smart and focused on what it's trying to be.

Full Review… | June 23, 2013

Hillcoat exhausts every gangster cliché he can cram into a would-be epic distilling hooch, cooch and putsch into a diluted Scorsese mash.

Full Review… | May 26, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

Audience Reviews for Lawless


Three brothers in the bootlegging business during the prohibition era refuse to bow to the will of Chicago gangsters and provoke a war between their backwoods community and big city organised crime. John Hillcoat reunites with scriptwriter Nick Cave who collaborated on the atmospheric and characterful The Proposition for this old school gangster drama which unfortunately has neither of those qualities. Despite a promising cast, Lawless is a rather unengaging affair that's a little too admiring of some pretty unpleasant violence perpetrated by a singularly unlikeable bunch of characters. Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke are little more than a pair of mumbling thugs, Guy Pearce's gun toting dandy is little more than a caricature and Shia Lebeouf once again channels his simpering frat-boy persona and fails to conjure any kind of charisma or chemistry whatsoever. The film is attractive to look at and the screen ignites during Gary Oldman's all-too brief appearances but the editing is choppy and the characterisation unappealing and unconvincing. Ultimately Lawless has none of the weight or moral message of a serious drama, nor the excitement or sense of fun of an action film making for an uninvolving tale of a trio of "heroes" it's very difficult to care about.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A film about redneck moonshine bootleggers, well yeehaw!. Apparently this is an adaptation of a book which recounts true events from 1931 in the USA. The story is actually based on the author's real family from around this era, he seems to be proud of his relations criminal activities then. Well its based on fact so it makes the film more interesting.

Visually this film looks the business, its gritty, violent and thoroughly well made from top to bottom. I love how everybody looks in their costumes, this period in US history was a smart time and on film it always looks good.

The main issue with this film is thus, clearly its aiming for epic Oscar status, that's fine but its not good enough. The reason being, in my opinion, the creators can't decide what they want this film to be. Do they want an epic grand scale tour de force a' la 'The Godfather' or do they want a graphic novel style kick ass flick a' la 'Last Man Standing' or 'The Untouchables'?.

The film starts brilliantly, with a good dust up from Hardy showing his position within the film and then the coup de grace. Oldman strolls out into the middle of a dusty dirt street and proceeds to tommy gun an oncoming old Ford jalopy to pieces. This one sequence is over quickly but its overly awesome and really gets you in the mood for an ass kicking period flick.

After this great kick off the film tends to lull for much of the run time with sparse bits of violence. The whole thing is lost in limbo between wanting epic Oscar status or violent kick ass graphic novel type status. The issue being the film achieves neither but hangs somewhere in between like a lost tourist.

The other shame is the fact the two best characters and actors aren't involved enough. Oldman is hyper as usual and just needs more screen time here, its as simple as that (although his character does remind me of Chris Walken's character of 'Hickey' in 'Last Man Standing') .

Whilst the best character by far is Pearce as the slimy nasty dastardly 'Rakes'. A kind of polar opposite to Elliot Ness, Ness was a crusading good cop while 'Rakes' is a crusading bad cop. He's only doing his job and upholding the law but in a really bent way hehe.

Both these guys NEEDED more screen time as they both rocked ass and looked damn good doing it. Alas we're stuck with lots of the dreadful Labeouf (how does this guy get work!!?) and the very much overrated Hardy who yet again mumbles his way through this film also. This guy really isn't much of an actor, sorry to all you Nolan fanboys out there, tis the reality.

Despite the two guys I've mentioned most of the characters aren't exactly original, there is nothing new on offer here from this era, standard fair. The violence is harsh thundering and cool but admittedly cliched for this type of film, the thing is that's the best thing about the film.
Without much of the violence this would be a poor epic wannabe, with the violence its good fun but not as good as 'Last Man Standing' or 'Untouchables'.

To be frank the plot is highly basic and doesn't really deserve a film made about it. That said I can't deny that it looks lush and the brutal glorification of prohibition-era Virginia violence is too good to miss.

Hands up who wants to see Oldman smash some hood across the head with a big metal shovel in a fit of rage?, yeah that's what I thought, of course you do.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Lawless is amazingly well-acted and shot, while its story seems lacking. It is dark and violent and entertaining. Even more impressive is the fact that Lawless recognizes that it is in the end nothing but a popcorn flick. Many other movies of this sort will try to salvage themselves in the final acts, but Lawless dies gracefully, never taking itself too seriously. This movie is the best kind of eye-candy out there. That being said, Lawless is still just eye-candy

Nikhil N.
Nikhil Nandu

Super Reviewer

Lawless Quotes

– Submitted by Krissy H (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Krissy H (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Eli T (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Eli T (2 years ago)

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