Lawless Reviews

Top Critic
David Thomson
The New Republic
June 14, 2013
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.
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Anthony Lane
New Yorker
September 3, 2012
The center of narrative gravity is hard to locate; for whom are we rooting, and does anything really ripple outward from this nasty local fight?
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
August 31, 2012
Fans of The Proposition will have to settle for sublimely evil performances by Gary Oldman (as a murderous rival) and Guy Pearce (as a government agent) and a large quotient of gut-wrenching violence.
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
August 30, 2012
With a dynamite cast, an iconic screenwriter in rocker Nick Cave and an Aussie director in John Hillcoat, you assume a new classic. What you get is an ambitious try.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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John Anderson
Wall Street Journal
August 30, 2012
You can sense the filth, and smell the rust, and feel the ingrained poverty that might well convince a family of survivors (of World War I and the Spanish flu) to make their fortune selling moonshine to their neighbors.
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Dana Stevens
Slate
August 30, 2012
There's something at the movie's heart that remains flimsy and inauthentic, a kid in his older brother's ill-fitting shoes.
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Mark Feeney
Boston Globe
August 30, 2012
Much of the action may be nearly as grim as in director John Hillcoat's previous feature, "The Road" - "Lawless" is very bloody - but the scenery and production design are a whole lot nicer.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
August 30, 2012
This isn't to say that there's not enough here, but just don't look for it all to add up.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Keith Phipps
AV Club
August 30, 2012
Lawless is filled with forbidding shadows and verdant abundance, contrasting the indifference of nature with the violence of the humanity within it.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
August 29, 2012
I can only admire this film's craftsmanship and acting, and regret its failure to rise above them.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
August 29, 2012
"Lawless" offers a compelling, gruesome and instructive time-travel exercise.
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Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
August 29, 2012
Based on a novel by Dallas-based Matt Bondurant about his family's real-life bootlegging past, it's a violent, brooding portrait of brotherhood in trying times.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
August 29, 2012
At its core, this is a film about men doing violence to men. And they do plenty of it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
August 29, 2012
The unflinching slicing and dicing is viscerally brutal, but without sufficient character development Lawless simply feels lifeless.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
August 29, 2012
This is a well-made movie that deserves a higher profile than it is being accorded.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
August 29, 2012
Ultimately, "Lawless" is just another gangster movie, and not a very good one ...
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
August 29, 2012
The action is, overall, as exciting as the primary performances are impressive.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
August 29, 2012
This should've been a really good picture, especially with Hillcoat's crack ensemble. Instead it's a stilted battle waged between the material and the interpreters.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
August 29, 2012
An inescapable sense of "so what?" sets in early with "Lawless," almost as soon as Shia LaBeouf begins his lackluster opening narration.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 29, 2012
A story of entrepreneurship, of family, of fighting for one's rights - the right to make white lightning, and money. It's as American as apple pie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Robert Abele
Los Angeles Times
August 29, 2012
Turns the Virginia hills of the early 1930s into just another backdrop for a clockwork succession of perfunctorily filmed showdowns and shootouts.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Tom Long
Detroit News
August 29, 2012
"Lawless" is a sprawling story of dirt road bloodlines and stubbornness, solid but a bit out of control.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
August 29, 2012
Historical authenticity and pulp fiction blend nicely in "Lawless," a lush-looking drama full of blazing Tommy guns, fast jalopies, brutish men and delicate women.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
August 29, 2012
At least a third of its two hours is devoted to "arty'' shots of landscapes.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
August 29, 2012
Hillcoat and Cave give us more than an action story. They create a world.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
August 29, 2012
Lawless turns the literary tone of its source novel into something faster, leaner and more populist.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
August 29, 2012
All slicked up but mostly firing blanks, John Hillcoat's Prohibition-era western Lawless looks and sounds great but fails to tell a compelling story.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
August 29, 2012
Hillcoat's ultra-violent drama plays like a hot, sweaty, delusional fever dream and is similarly fitful. It can be visceral and operatic, beautiful and brutal but also slow and overlong.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Soren Anderson
Seattle Times
August 29, 2012
A character study that puts its focus on its least sympathetic characters.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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August 29, 2012
[Lawless] is both too obvious and not direct enough, and its shapelessness dilutes its power.
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 29, 2012
Shia LaBeouf plays young Jack Bondurant with more conviction and skill than we have seen before.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
August 28, 2012
Hardy's an exceptional actor, and LaBeouf has a certain fizzy charisma, but they each twang embarrassingly every time they have a sentence or two to utter, and not even in a way that matches.
Top Critic
Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice
August 28, 2012
The narrative often seems at odds with the director's pictorialism, trudging when it should be striding toward the climax, isolating the performers on their marks when everything depends on taut blood-ties interconnection.
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 28, 2012
The fire that stokes the story is violence. Yet despite some gruesome images and the psychotic fervor of Rakes, it's a frustratingly slow boil.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
August 28, 2012
Mr. Hardy mostly grunts, growls and ribbits, occasionally interrupting his angry bullfrog impersonation to deliver down-home bromides that make him sound like Toby Keith choking on a Cheeto.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
August 23, 2012
Bad-ass from start to finish.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Eric D. Snider
Film.com
May 25, 2012
A great deal of rowdy, crowd-pleasing fun, and there ain't nothin' wrong with that.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
May 20, 2012
Hardy's presence is compelling, but the film comes fully alive only when it turns bloody. At those moments, though, it has the kick of a mule.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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David Fear
Time Out
May 20, 2012
Intermittently intriguing, wildly uneven.
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Mike D'Angelo
AV Club
May 20, 2012
A thoroughly familiar-but flavorful and rousing-shoot-'em-up set among Prohibition bootleggers.
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Karina Longworth
L.A. Weekly
May 20, 2012
Never-not-fun junk food enlivened by good actors and a thin ghosting of Hollywood-style "relevancy", but only barely enough actual substance to keep the shoot-em-ups interesting.
Top Critic
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
May 20, 2012
It makes for an oddly comfy experience considering the death and hurt at the film's core.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
May 20, 2012
Lawless tries to be flawless; as a movie, it's often listless - lifeless.
Top Critic
David Rooney
Hollywood Reporter
May 19, 2012
Fueled by a brooding sense of dread, visceral bursts of violence, potent atmosphere and some juicy character portraits from a robust cast.