Tom Hardy seems to be absolutely everywhere at the minute, and most of his films, This Means War aside, are pretty darn good. Hot off the press of The Dark Knight Rises, and still holding most of the muscular tone he needed for Bane, Hardy is back on the screen as one of the leads in Lawless, leading a fantastic cast through Franklin County, Virginia in the 1930's. He plays Forrest Bondurant, a bootlegger who along with his brothers provides locals and the authorities with alcohol during prohibition. That is until corruption within the law in Chicago decides to interfere through sleazy Guy Pearce, but these brothers are Bondurants and they don't lay down for nobody. From here on in we have a 'battle of the balls' as such with Hardy, Shia LeBeouf and Jason Clarke finding themselves doing battle with Guy Pearce to establish respect and order in Franklin.
This is the sort of film that I would not normally be bothered about. Other John Hillcoat films have never satisfied me and I believe that it is the cast alone that have got me to see this film. Maybe we need to thank the director for getting them all on board then. Many people I have spoken to about the trailer have also said the same thing, they would see it due to the cast more than anything as it is nothing they haven't seen before. For those of you that thought this then I suggest you throw that out the window because it is actually really good. It is graphic, it is character driven, there are established arc, and some great acting from some great actors. I'm going to throw this out there now; even Shia LeBeouf was great! If these kind of things suit your fancy then I suggest you get out and see this film as you won't be disappointed.
It is hard to decide who steals the show throughout the film. Hardy is brilliant as Forrest, and his character is put through a lot during the film and manages to go through each emotion out there. He is also hard as nails and is terrifying when he is throwing his knuckle dusted fist around. What happens to his character will shock you all and the legend of him being indestructible is also very well handled. LeBeouf is also very good. He definitely shows that he can play a more serious role and here he was thoroughly believable as the younger brother who seeks approval from his elders. Clarke also plays the drunken brother very well and Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska do well with the little roles they have; this is very much a male driven film. Guy Pearce should be inline for some kind of award as his villain is one of the creepiest, with a terrible haircut, since Chigurh in No Country For Old Men. When him and Hardy stand toe to toe you are just waiting for fireworks with one willing to stab you and one wanting a fist fight. Pearce is that good you are actually wishing he will get his commupance.
There are one or two downfalls with the film however. Yes it is full of gore, the violence is some of the most realistic I have seen before, the direction is spot on, and the set design is out of this world but it lets itself down on a couple of occasions. The film is fairly long and there are moments that feel like they drag and could possibly have been shortened in order to not get this feeling. Gary Oldman is also billed for this film but is barely in it, which is disappointing considering the explosive introduction he has. The ending is also drawn out with several fade in and outs when all you really want is it to be wrapped up. Instead we get a daft ending for Hardy's character that could have easily been omitted or left to the narration. I really did like this film but I did come out thinking it was not as good as No County For Old Men, which although isn't exactly the same it was all I could think about during some scenes.
The few negatives aside it is a very good film. The characters are well drawn and the cast play each one brilliantly. Each seems to have their own trait which gives you a back story in performance alone. This is a kudos to cast and director alike. The plot does seem paper thin but there is something about it that grips you and it becomes more in depth through the characters despite it being a typical hero vs villain film. If you like a bit of violence and gore then you will love this, it is clear why it is an 18 certificate. Throats get cut, faces get smashed, shovels swing, and testicles are removed, and all look realistic and some of the most graphic interpretations I have seen on film.
Pros: Strong acting, believable characters, and some brutal violent scenes.
Cons: Not enough Oldman and a weak final five minutes.
7 / 10
Top 10 of 2012 so far:
1. The Dark Knight Rises 10 / 10
2. The Hunger Games 8 / 10
3. Snow White And The Huntsman 8 / 10
4. Avengers Assemble 7.5 / 10
5. Ted 7.5 / 10
6. 21 Jump Street 7.5 / 10
7. Lawless 7 / 10
8. The Expendables 2 7 / 10
9. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 7 / 10
10. The Grey 7 / 10