Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 206 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) Expand
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: 34 out of 47
  2. Negative: 5 out of 47
  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. Dec 14, 2013
    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 and exceptionally honest look at the Bondurant Boys and their fascinating (not to mention dangerous) bootlegging days. Expand
  3. Sep 1, 2012
    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
  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 28, 2013
    "Lawless" is well done, has excellent all around performances and is a fine addition to the genre. It's worth checking out, but be forewarned, you've seen this all before. The film boasts a stellar cast, but it fails to elevate the film to it's potential under the direction of Australian director John Hillcoat (The Proposition). The film does however offer beautiful technical aspects and production values--the costumes, production sets, and yes, the vehicles are first rate.
    "Lawless" (adapted from the book "The Wettest County in the World"), in which real-life bootlegging brothers the Bondurants are known as the toughest and most successful bootleggers in the business. Oldest brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) runs the family business with quiet brute strength, while his brother Howard (Jason Clarke) is the "crazy one," and then there is the runt of the litter, young Jack (Shia LaBeouf), who doesn't take to violence like his older brothers, but he still wants into the family business. The lucrative business turns bloody, however, when the Bondurants refuse to allow a corrupt politician and his cronies to wedge themselves in to their racket. This leads to a violent stand-off between the county's bootleggers and the corrupt police, lead by Chicago-based federal agent Special Deputy Rakes (Guy Pearce), and it quickly becomes personal, violent, and fueled by revenge. Rounding out the cast is ex-dancer Maggie (Jessica Chastain), who moves to the countryside to escape the violent ways of the city of Chicago, only to find herself surrounded by similar violence.
    The storyline feels run-of-mill despite being based on real people and real events. There really aren't any moments of surprise and shock, as everything unfolds pretty much as expected, all the way up to the very end. So while entertaining and kind of memorable, it's also something that doesn't really rise up it's own trappings and contrivances. Impressive cinematography with outstanding production values don't make up for the fact that their are no real insights into the characters of the "true story"--just leaving us with endless carnage. The final showdown and conclusion is less than satisfying and wraps itself up a little to neatly. It's a respectable film and well-made, but hovers just above mediocrity.
  6. Sep 17, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A very good story and authentic filming location. I gave the lower score of 6 because the director should have had more care in the control of analyzing his scenes for a professional portrayal. I can definitely see Tom Hardy nominated for best supporting actor, he was that good of a character actor (think of Heath Ledger quality of acting and more of his Broke Back Mountain character minus the gay and you'll have the character Forrest in this film). Guy Pierce once again shows he's maybe just a slight step up on acting skills than Van Damme (why do they keep recasting this guy?). I could think of several B movie actors that would have done a better job than him. Jason Clarke did very well and Dane Deehan did a really good job as the character Cricket, but Tom Hardy is the one that made this film shine. SPOILER: My biggest qualm is the scenes where Jack is beaten REALLY badly by Charlie Rakes. Jack is thrown off the porch and lands on a hidden "fall pad" under the dirt and then Charlie follows after him stepping on the same pad; wow talk about amateur scene direction! You can actually see the ground bounce twice of what looks like a buried mattress. Then this scene is followed up with Jack sitting at the family station after he cleaned himself up and Forrest sees him. Jack looks almost no worse for wear and like he's been on the mend for 2 or more weeks. Hello MAKEUP, your fired. Story and acting (minus Guy) I give an 8. Directing I give a 5. 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 47 User Reviews


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