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Generally favorable reviews- based on 192 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Lawless is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant’s family in his novel “The Wettest County In The World”, the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave. (The Weinstein Company) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 29, 2012
    Lawless is one of those movies that feels like it's trying to say something more important than it really is. It could have been better, but with Hardy and Pearce on board, it's plenty good enough.
  2. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Aug 11, 2012
    If Lawless doesn't achieve the mythic dimensions of the truly great outlaw and gangster movies, it is a highly entertaining tale set in a vivid milieu, told with style and populated by a terrific ensemble.
  3. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Aug 29, 2012
    The strength of the cast assembled by Australian-born director John Hillcoat is eye-opening.
  4. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Aug 29, 2012
    Lawless is very bloody - but the scenery and production design are a whole lot nicer.
  5. Reviewed by: Jane Crowther
    Sep 1, 2012
    Stylish and savage, but nothing you haven't seen before. Lawless is something of a blunt instrument but seductive nonetheless.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Aug 29, 2012
    So stunningly photographed that the blood that spurts early and often in this grisly period piece is extra-vivid red. But that hardly makes the Prohibition-era story of a trio of bootlegging brothers feel authentic.
  7. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Aug 29, 2012
    It's hard to make a movie about moonshiners that isn't entertaining, but the lethargic, generically titled Lawless comes perilously close - at least a third of its two hours is devoted to "arty'' shots of landscapes.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 48
  2. Negative: 5 out of 48
  1. Dec 10, 2012
    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 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
  2. Mar 15, 2013
    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. Expand
  3. Jun 13, 2013
    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.
  4. Sep 7, 2012
    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 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
  5. Jan 1, 2013
    It was alright. It's slow at times, but reels you in with the action scenes. It can be quite gory at times and unrealistic, but that's the way many movies are nowadays. Good acting as predictable, but the plot struggled at times. Expand
  6. Jan 12, 2013
    A rather simple story with simple folk, must be the reason they cast LaBeouf in it. The Brits (Hardy, Oldman, Taylor) are exellent as always, Aussie Pearce makes a great creepy bad guy and Shia is used as a punching bag most of the time...finally he has found the role he was made for. Let's hope type casting ensues. I was mostly entertained, didn't cry though, laughed when Shia got punched, but it won't be remembered as one of the great films of our time... Expand
  7. Sep 4, 2012
    It was a horrible movie!The worst one I have seen so far. An absolutely meaningless plot with a tremendous amount of a brutal violence. I honestly have no idea why there is a film about a bunch of criminals who were selling the moonshine. What is so special about it? In those days it was very popular in Russia. Almost in every village there were people who were involved in such activities as producing the moonshine why do we need to spend two hours of our life just to stare at this disaster? Expand

See all 48 User Reviews


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