I remember being intrigued by Lawless. Two-thirds of the brothers in this film were portrayed by actors that I first became acquainted with via Showtime shows.
Tom Hardy played Jack Donnelly on Meadowlands, arguably the most compelling character on that show. And Jason Clarke portrayed Tommy Caffee on Brotherhood, a show that’s easily one of my top ten all time favorites.
So, how did I feel about Lawless?
Lawless should work. It stars the aforementioned Hardy and Clarke along with Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Dane DeHaan and Guy Pearce. It’s directed by John Hillcoat, who directed The Road, which I liked and The Proposition, which I loved.
But I didn’t love Lawless. Hardy does exactly what you expect him to do, but Clarke doesn’t have a ton of material. Chastain and Wasikowska are basically relegated to props, though considering it’s a period piece it’s a slightly forgivable sin.
I think the biggest problem with Lawless is that LaBeouf is the star. Especially in 2014 it’s hard to imagine him as a sympathetic character. There’s a scene where he’s getting a beat down from Pearce and was actually rooting for Pearce.
Speaking of Pearce, his character is virtually two-dimensional. He’s the antagonist and that’s all that he is. He’s got an interesting look, but little beyond that.
And I get that it’s based on a true story and historically accurate, but the punishment that Hardy’s Forrest takes and walks away from is absurd. It borders on unbelievable, especially considering 1930’s medicine.
Um, good things about Lawless? The period certainly seems to be captured. DeHaan impresses with his Cricket. But that’s about it. I mean unless you really want to watch Shia LeBeouf catch a vicious beating.