User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 277 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 9 out of 277
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  1. Sep 16, 2012
    7
    Enjoyed much more than the critics average would of suggested. It tries to bill itself as a realistic account of prohibition but plays out like a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. It has a somewhat unique view that kept me entertained for the time in the theater but do not expect to be making any DVD purchases of this film any time soon. Decent acting though. The bad guy was a little toEnjoyed much more than the critics average would of suggested. It tries to bill itself as a realistic account of prohibition but plays out like a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. It has a somewhat unique view that kept me entertained for the time in the theater but do not expect to be making any DVD purchases of this film any time soon. Decent acting though. The bad guy was a little to much over to top for this movie if you ask me and did not fit in well with the theme or other characters. He fit in like putting Buggs Bunny in Star Wars. Other than that pretty good but not greatness. Expand
  2. Sep 6, 2012
    7
    American mythos lives on in Lawless
  3. Sep 8, 2012
    7
    Overall lawless was... Pretty good no real big complaint I guess. This movie will definitely not win or even get close to being nominated for best picture or anything but I can almost promise you that you will have fun with this film
  4. Aug 31, 2012
    9
    What a rollicking good ol' time at the movies! Think "Breaking Bad", circa 1930, and you have a taste of what "Lawless" is like. Stellar ensemble cast, beautiful cinematography, tremendous production design, one of the best soundtracks of the year (reminiscent of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?), and a LOT of action! Dunno if its gonna cause any Oscar buzz, but I sure liked it!

    This one is
    What a rollicking good ol' time at the movies! Think "Breaking Bad", circa 1930, and you have a taste of what "Lawless" is like. Stellar ensemble cast, beautiful cinematography, tremendous production design, one of the best soundtracks of the year (reminiscent of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?), and a LOT of action! Dunno if its gonna cause any Oscar buzz, but I sure liked it!

    This one is NOT for the squeamish though! TONS o' graphic violence and very bloody, but all of it fits within the realm of the story, so I won't call it gratuitous. Definitely not for everyone because of this factor, Those that see it and have a discriminating eye may catch some editing, continuity, & make-up gaffs, but you know what? Heck, even "Terry Malloy" (Brando) even gets outta the wrong side of the cab in On the Waterfront, so you'll find little "oopsah-daisies" in the very best films of all time. Downloading the soundtrack from iTunes tonight. Grade = A-
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  5. Sep 1, 2012
    8
    Nick Cave and John Hillcoat are back and they offer us another sophisticated historical film "de genre". Lawless is obviously less original, violent and - let's admit it - interesting than its predecessor (The Proposition), it is nonetheless a powerful and striking effort focusing on the destiny of a brotherhood of local gangsters during the prohibition. The actors are convincing,Nick Cave and John Hillcoat are back and they offer us another sophisticated historical film "de genre". Lawless is obviously less original, violent and - let's admit it - interesting than its predecessor (The Proposition), it is nonetheless a powerful and striking effort focusing on the destiny of a brotherhood of local gangsters during the prohibition. The actors are convincing, especially supporting actors such as the gorgeous Jessica Chastain and aweful Guy Pearce. Quite classical, but with a modern and exquisite presentation. Expand
  6. Aug 29, 2012
    9
    One of the best movies of the year. While it doesn't quite reach Hillcoat's masterpiece The Proposition, it's still a beautifully shot, though brutally violent period piece that is expertly acted by the entire cast. While it's ultimately Tom Hardy who steals the show, Guy Pearce looks to be having the time of his life playing the cartoonish (in a good way) and sleazy villain, and NickOne of the best movies of the year. While it doesn't quite reach Hillcoat's masterpiece The Proposition, it's still a beautifully shot, though brutally violent period piece that is expertly acted by the entire cast. While it's ultimately Tom Hardy who steals the show, Guy Pearce looks to be having the time of his life playing the cartoonish (in a good way) and sleazy villain, and Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' soundtrack stays with you long after the credits roll. Expand
  7. Sep 9, 2012
    9
    Not a film for the squeamish or faint-hearted. Casting very good, music was tremendous and the cinematography was superb. I especially thought the casting of women was tops.
  8. Oct 16, 2012
    8
    Really enjoyed this movie, but also felt it could have been so much better! Cinematography was great, and loved the way it showcased absolutely everything.
  9. Sep 8, 2012
    9
    This film has many aspects that make a movie great. There are amazing and fun characters, there is an interesting story, great acting, tension, ect. This movie had something that is missing from movies today and it was made as a money-grabber but it was made to be a great movie. The audience liked this movie, it had scenes that were funny and sad. It had scenes that were made you laugh outThis film has many aspects that make a movie great. There are amazing and fun characters, there is an interesting story, great acting, tension, ect. This movie had something that is missing from movies today and it was made as a money-grabber but it was made to be a great movie. The audience liked this movie, it had scenes that were funny and sad. It had scenes that were made you laugh out loud and sit on the edge of your seat. Everything is great about this movie. Only downside was a little bit too much blood at the very beginning (just a little bit too much) and there wasn't enough Garry Oldman but Tom Hardy and Shia Labeouf played outstandingly. Collapse
  10. Sep 10, 2012
    10
    Brilliant film, wonderful cast. Good to see Tom Hardy playing more American roles. Guy Pearce's character is a total shocker and well acted. I can't praise this film enough. Everybody has their own tastes with regards to what makes a good film and for people to go on this site and slate it is just sad and wrong!!! Good film and if you are the sort to slate this film, get out of your darkBrilliant film, wonderful cast. Good to see Tom Hardy playing more American roles. Guy Pearce's character is a total shocker and well acted. I can't praise this film enough. Everybody has their own tastes with regards to what makes a good film and for people to go on this site and slate it is just sad and wrong!!! Good film and if you are the sort to slate this film, get out of your dark little cave and live a little. Expand
  11. Oct 5, 2012
    8
    The best film of the year so far, Lawless is as gritty and grisly as they come, as well has having one of my new favourite characters of all time. Hillcoat has refined his style to a little less of the overly long panning landscape shots and a little more action, and it works a treat. All the characters are characters you care about, the story is paced perfectly and the cinematography,The best film of the year so far, Lawless is as gritty and grisly as they come, as well has having one of my new favourite characters of all time. Hillcoat has refined his style to a little less of the overly long panning landscape shots and a little more action, and it works a treat. All the characters are characters you care about, the story is paced perfectly and the cinematography, though not as inspiring and bold as Hillcoats previous films, is still well above average. Tom Hardy gives a fantastic performance as the grunting, awkward mass bulk that is Forrest Bondurant. Guy Pearce plays the villain, and though it is a little over played, his overall performance is pure sleaze and lends its hand to the underlying humour throughout as well as providing a much needed hate figure (though Shia LeBoeufs character is easily disliked).

    A great film that, if you enjoy a high level of script, acting, direction and cinematography, is a must see.
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  12. Nov 26, 2012
    9
    Highly underrated - very strong narrative, impressive mise en scène and (f)lawless (see what I did there) acting. The ending could be better, but "Lawless" remains a somewhat important movie in my opinion. The quartet's (Hardy, LaBoeuf, Clarke and Pearce) acting alone should make you wanna see this, it's really a masterclass.
  13. Nov 28, 2012
    8
    John Hillcoat delivers another magnificent drama chock-full of thrilling action, brilliant imagery, and lasting performances from Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, and - most surprisingly - Shia LaBeouf.
  14. Dec 10, 2012
    10
    Ran across this movie last week. I have watched it at least 25 times now, read the book and did a little ancestry research. Phenomenal casting, soundtrack carries you to the period and the emotion of the time. Compelling cinematography captures the essences of the hard times people managed to thrive and survive. The movie captures the genuineness of the family bond and speaks to theRan across this movie last week. I have watched it at least 25 times now, read the book and did a little ancestry research. Phenomenal casting, soundtrack carries you to the period and the emotion of the time. Compelling cinematography captures the essences of the hard times people managed to thrive and survive. The movie captures the genuineness of the family bond and speaks to the nature and character of the men and women of the era. My Grandfather and his brother were bootleg drivers in Oklahoma/Arkansas/Louisiana. My Grandfather survived, his brother did not, killed while hall white-lighting, in a high speed chase. Have pictures of them, the stills they operated and their stories. This movie brought back a lot of memories, Love the movie, the acting, location, book, history. Expand
  15. Dec 23, 2013
    9
    An excellently cast and written movie that manages to be extremely brutal without coming across as over excessive with it's violence. It might not get all the facts right but it still provides an excellent look into the lives of these characters. It might even make you want to look further into the history of the events yourself. I really enjoyed Lawless and highly recommend watching it.
  16. Jun 13, 2013
    8
    While trying its hardest to be gritty, realistic and perhaps accurate, Lawless tends to come off too 'Hollywood' a few times throughout the film, but with superb performances and a very graphic tale, it is ultimately one of the best films of 2012.
    Tom Hardy is the undeniable and deserved star of the show, his quiet, focused and very powerful performance as successful moonshine business
    While trying its hardest to be gritty, realistic and perhaps accurate, Lawless tends to come off too 'Hollywood' a few times throughout the film, but with superb performances and a very graphic tale, it is ultimately one of the best films of 2012.
    Tom Hardy is the undeniable and deserved star of the show, his quiet, focused and very powerful performance as successful moonshine business runner Forrest Bondurant lifted the film to new heights it wouldn't have reached without his and Guy Pearce's performances. Based on the true story of the Bondurant brothers, also consisting of Jack (Shia LaBeouf) and Howard (Jason Clarke). Jack tries desperately to be a part of the business his older brothers run in Franklin County.
    But trouble is not far around the corner, and when the big gangsters from the city are becoming more consistent, Special Deputy Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce) is drafted in to bring sort of order to this lawless county, with his own methods in hand.
    When Forrest refuses a deal to be in the pocket of the law, its a battle of survival and honour from there on in, bloodshed to bloodshed.
    The beautiful cinematography, Prohibition era setting and the landscape add up to an excellent looking film, but it often it seems to get lost in itself, Gary Oldman makes an appearance as notorious gangster Floyd Banner, but disappears quite quickly without much warning. The characters jump in and out of importance but ultimately do have their own burdens and troubles, Forrest is reluctant to let Jack join the business, and he has also to try and encourage the other 'bootleggers' to stand up against the new law in the town.
    Shia LaBeouf's Jack is touted as the driving force of the film, how he tries to finally step out of his brothers shadows, but Forrest is just too good a character to paint over, his calm and collective attitude, but his protection of his family when necessary are shown through Tom Hardy, while Guy Pearce is frightening and often deluded as Charley Rakes, his perfect hair and menacing eyes tell a story that you wouldn't want to hear.
    Graphic in its content, there is plenty here to be entertained, humour, horror, but most of all, performance. Not without it's cons, but Lawless certainly hits all the right notes and has some of the best performances of last year.
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  17. Mar 24, 2013
    7
    Lawless is a powerful film that showcases the acting talents of its cast. Shia delivers a wonderful performance as the foolish and proud but timid youngest brother, while Hardy excels as the grisly silent elder brother, but it is Guy Pearce who delivers the films stand out performance as the deranged Officer of the law with a quick wit and an even quicker bullet a must watch!
  18. Sep 3, 2012
    7
    What a stellar cast we have in Lawless, (Gary Oldman) as the gangster, (Guy Pearce) as the violent deputy from Chicago, (Tom Hardy) as the oldest bondurent brother, (Jessica Chastain) as the head waitress at the Bondurants restaurant, then finally (Shia LeBeouf) as the lead actor and most developed character in the film. Can Shia carry with movie on his shoulders? Can he fulfill hisWhat a stellar cast we have in Lawless, (Gary Oldman) as the gangster, (Guy Pearce) as the violent deputy from Chicago, (Tom Hardy) as the oldest bondurent brother, (Jessica Chastain) as the head waitress at the Bondurants restaurant, then finally (Shia LeBeouf) as the lead actor and most developed character in the film. Can Shia carry with movie on his shoulders? Can he fulfill his western ascent throughout the 1hr and 55min runtime? I believe the biggest query that I want answered from LeBeouf is, âcan he grow up in this film?â? Will Lawless be the movie where he grows up, and get the Even Stevens tag off of him? Or will he still be considered the kid from Disney channel, and all those Transformers movies? Set in the depression era, where the prohibition law took place. A band of bootlegging brothers (LeBeouf, Hardy and Howard) made huge profits of selling liquor, âwhich in the movie was moonshine.â? After successful years of selling moonshine, a deputy from Chicago (Guy Pearce) comes into town to stop the Bondurent brothers from proceeding in their very profitable business, which I mean (LeBeouf buying new cars and nice suits every week.) can the bootlegging smugglers continue to rule their business? Or does the deputy have enough force and will to stop them? The acting in this film was outstanding and was the main reason why I enjoyed the film. (Guy Pearce), who is very unrecognizable in this movie, gives me the finest performance I have ever seen from him. One of the best performances I seen this year so far, heâ(TM)s absolutely violent to the max, and wonâ(TM)t let a thug embarrass him for nothing. One particular scene that Iâ(TM)m very fond of is when (Guy Pearce) and (Tom Hardy) first meet in the movie. That scene is so intense that youâ(TM)re waiting for an all out brawl to happen between those two characters. (Tom Hardy) also plays a very good part as well, he plays another badass role that when pisses him off, you better run. Iâ(TM)ll just say that (Tom Hardyâ(TM)s) character is invincible, literally. Finally we have (Shia LeBeouf) as the youngest and more stupid brother. Jack, which is LeBeoufâ(TM)s character, is the most developed out of them all. He plays the younger brother that just wants to be like his older brothers and make them proud, which leads to some very gruesome and violent scenes. Both (Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce) carry two acts of the film alone. As the third act reels in, itâ(TM)s (Shia LeBeouf) who carriers this film all the way to the end, with a very impressive performance from him. The bone chilling violence, with the great acting and the good script leaves this movie at a high entertaining level, even with the 2nd half of the film being weaker then the first. Lawless is a film that youâ(TM)re either going to relish about, or going to completely shut out. I say this because, the movie is not fast paced, nor does it have a lot of action, and in todayâ(TM)s society that is what most people want when they see films on the big screen. If you like action packed movies, this is not down your ally, and should probably check out Expendables 2, âwhich I have not seen yet.â? I enjoyed the hell out of this film and defiantly will see this movie again some time in the near future. I was atonished by how the movie looked, the set pieces were right on point with the western feel. Good make-up effects for the bloody and beaten faces that most all characters went through in the film. With amazing acting, and great character development, Lawless ends up being worth the full price admission. Back to the question, does Shia LeBeouf finally grow up in this film? "Yes, he certainly becomes a man in Lawless," which i'm very glad to see. Expand
  19. Sep 7, 2012
    7
    Having seen The Road a while back and The Proposition prior to this I was expecting the equal amount of dramatic, incredibly tense scenes back to back I was expecting so much but it didn't quite fulfill my expectations. I felt ,compared to Hillcoat's last two films, this one to be a little watered down. I did enjoy this film though, the entire cast was great even Shia LaBeof. If he doesHaving seen The Road a while back and The Proposition prior to this I was expecting the equal amount of dramatic, incredibly tense scenes back to back I was expecting so much but it didn't quite fulfill my expectations. I felt ,compared to Hillcoat's last two films, this one to be a little watered down. I did enjoy this film though, the entire cast was great even Shia LaBeof. If he does more roles like this he will prove his acting talent. Tom Hardy is great as always, although his consistent grunting seemed a little silly. I would always like a little more Gary Oldman, he had the best performance in my opinion and he was only in it for three or four scenes. Guy Pearce is just so evil in this role he is the one that stood out from the entire main cast. What I found really annoying was the amount of times one particular character gets shot stabbed, and still lives. They make the idea of them being indestructible too over the top and ridiculously unrealistic, I felt as if the characters should have been dead the first time. I thought the ending was too cliche it could have ended in the same idea but done differently. Overall I did like the movie, I love these grim, gangster, prohibition-era type of movies. The environment looks great. It's worth a watch. Expand
  20. Mar 15, 2013
    8
    A brilliant movie but just misses the chance of being the masterpiece it strived near with a perfect selection of cast its almost too impossible to dislike overall. I felt the direction of its characters could have had more depth z& screen time, the movie presented some charming locations added together with some beautiful filming and had a broad as well as relaxing score, Lawless is aboutA brilliant movie but just misses the chance of being the masterpiece it strived near with a perfect selection of cast its almost too impossible to dislike overall. I felt the direction of its characters could have had more depth z& screen time, the movie presented some charming locations added together with some beautiful filming and had a broad as well as relaxing score, Lawless is about 3 brothers (played by Hardy, LaBeouf & Clarke) who run a moonshine business but they are then confronted by a sent Special Deputy (played by Pearce) who wishes to have a cut from the brothers business but is turned down which sends both parties into a violent war. Tom Hardy pulls off a stellar performance as lead brother Forrest Bondurant by showing his diversity as an actor from his strength & pride shown in his character to developing a gritty American accent and showing us he can lead a heavily talented cast, easily making this his best performance to date. Shia LaBeouf plays Jack Bondurant and surprisingly shows some great acting, showing he can distant himself from the Transformers movies and convert to a much more serious & vulnerable role bringing some sense of wittiness & courage to his character which is well built upon throughout the movie. Guy Pearce sure kept the standards high in terms of acting by giving us a legit Antagonist in Deputy Charles Rakes but sadly he single handily delivers the only urge of a real threat in the movie (apart from the attack on Forrest). He puts on a clinic of wickedness in his character and is surely successful in creating a sinister deputy but does fall into a wacky state late in the movie. As for Gary Oldman i felt performed perfectly but his screen time was too short which i felt was a major loss of opportunity same goes for Jason Clarke who plays Howard Bondurant the third brother who does have some great scenes but lacked in depth, emotion and screen time to. He showed a lot of strength and will in his role but lacked major depth almost being more like a family friend then brother throughout the movie. Chastain & Wasikowska both played love interests to Jack & Forrest having great roles but the movie barely capitalized on it and kept scenes simple showing the only challenge for their characters was acceptance and love, i felt they missed a opportunity to shift parts of the movie into a deeper thriller & drama here. The violence can be quite vicious but i felt it kept it relevant to the film and the action scenes weren't blown out of proportion. Lawless is a great movie with minor downfalls but overall it's a beautifully scripted film that deserves more praise then criticism. Expand
  21. Jan 7, 2013
    8
    I am always interested in watching movies made from true stories. This one is about the Bondurant Brothers who survived World War 1, Spanish Flu....& selling Moonshine. Probably the best stellar show by Tom Hardy as far his performance is considered after "Warrior". Even though LaBeouf was the main lead in the movie, his character was over shadowed by Tom. Never expected LaBeouf to doI am always interested in watching movies made from true stories. This one is about the Bondurant Brothers who survived World War 1, Spanish Flu....& selling Moonshine. Probably the best stellar show by Tom Hardy as far his performance is considered after "Warrior". Even though LaBeouf was the main lead in the movie, his character was over shadowed by Tom. Never expected LaBeouf to do justice to the role, however he tried to give his best and it was average. The other character which will mesmerize you is 'Rakes'. Because Guy Pearce never disappoints as a baddie. Jason Clarke was decent as a supporting brother to Tom.
    If you are expecting violence, guns blazing, drama & powerful performances, go for it. You will not be disappointed.
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  22. Dec 14, 2013
    9
    Lawless may not entirely live up to the sum of all its celebrated parts but it succeeds in telling a riveting “true life” historical drama with plenty of entertaining and memorable characters coupled with smart filmmaking choices. A few core story beats aren’t fully realized and there are some awkward moments of truth and fiction balancing but, nevertheless, the movie delivers a brutal andLawless may not entirely live up to the sum of all its celebrated parts but it succeeds in telling a riveting “true life” historical drama with plenty of entertaining and memorable characters coupled with smart filmmaking choices. A few core story beats aren’t fully realized and there are some awkward moments of truth and fiction balancing but, nevertheless, the movie delivers a brutal and exceptionally honest look at the Bondurant Boys and their fascinating (not to mention dangerous) bootlegging days. Expand
  23. Mar 15, 2013
    9
    An all star cast makes this one of my favorite films of 2012. Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke, Dane Deehan, and even Shia LaBeouf give top notch performances. Making Lawless a must see.
  24. Mar 11, 2013
    7
    Not a bad movie. But watching it after you hear it involves John Hillcoat, Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain and Gary Oldman, you can't help but be disappointed.
  25. Nov 8, 2013
    7
    I got exactly what I wanted out of this film: good acting, a good soundtrack, and a taste of the old days. It's not a great one, but it's pretty good, and certainly entertaining.
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Sep 3, 2012
    60
    An uneven mix of impressively executed, violent clichés about good ol' boys defending the American right to flout the law.
  2. Reviewed by: Jane Crowther
    Sep 1, 2012
    60
    Stylish and savage, but nothing you haven't seen before. Lawless is something of a blunt instrument but seductive nonetheless.
  3. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 31, 2012
    70
    Lawless is one of those films that, through seeming serendipity, has a cast that defines its moment. There have been others - "The Breakfast Club," "The Godfather" and "Silverado," to name one irrelevant and two relevant examples. But Lawless really lucked out.