Starring: Shia Lebeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce
Director: John Hillcoat
Runtime: 116 minutes
I like a drink or two. Or two dozen. And so do Americans. What do you do if booze becomes illegal? You make it yourself. And that’s exactly what the Americans did during the great depression, when alcohol was declared illegal, and that is, incidentally, also what this movie is about.
The Bondurant Brothers, Jack (Shia Lebeouf), Forrest (Tom Hardy), and Howard (Jason Clarke) start out as small fry, but work their way up the ladder to become some of the country’s most renown ‘bootleggers’, producing their own ‘moonshine’, selling it to Chicago mobster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman). But with every illegal practice, there’s a cop determined to bring the operation down. How do Jack, Forrest and Howard survive in this time of general lawlessness?
Pretty well, if I might say so. Combining the enterprising Jack, the tough guy Forrest and the ´wild´ card Howard, they thrive under the pressure of sadistic special agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce). While other bootleggers cave in, the Bondurants expand their operations and become the largest producers of moonshine in the direct area. This agitates Rakes, who makes sure to give them his ‘special’ attention.
This film is a good depiction of the United States circa 1930, as far as I know. It has some action elements, but it is not a ‘guns-blazing’ kind of gangster movie. It is based upon a true story – the Bondurant-brother really did exist and really where big at the time in the bootlegging business – but the writer based his story mainly upon old news stories from local papers, which means it is basically a dramatisation of what probably happened, with some true elements.
That shouldn’t stop you from watching this movie though. Even though it may be more fiction than non-fiction, it is still a good story. Director John Hillcoat produced some great scenes. His curriculum vitae includes ‘The Proposition’ (also featuring Guy Pearce) and ‘The Road’ (also featuring Guy Pearce’), which both scored higher than a 7 on IMDb. ‘Lawless’ currently sports a 7.4 on IMDb, which it thoroughly deserves. Give this film a chance, it will not disappoint you.