Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Tue Aug 28 2012
Bland is an odd word to describe anything relating to moonshine, but it’s an apt description for this generic bootlegging saga, a lively but forgettable romp through Prohibition-era backwoods Virginia and the colorful thugs who made a mint with their rotgut. The Eighteenth Amendment turns the Bondurant boys—stoic tough-guy Forrest (Tom Hardy), volatile drunkard Howard (Jason Clarke) and impressionable youngster Jack (Shia LaBeouf)—into instant outlaws, pitting them against dirty vice cops demanding a cut of the profits from their now-illegal distillery business. Add boilerplate rhetoric about legal overreach, sprinkle in libertarian values, pepper with gunfire and mix well.
Despite its fish-in-a-barrel self-righteousness, the film’s saving grace is a top-shelf group of character actors, including Hardy (grunting out a po-boy accent with Bane-like indecipherability), Gary Oldman as an effortlessly menacing gangster and Guy Pearce, whose deliciously corrupt Fed may be the most dandified G-man ever. Their sporting swaggers are the only reasons Lawless might make an audience tipsy, since too-earnest, ever-furrowed-browed LaBeouf only adds a quickly sobering numbness to the drama.
More startling is that such unremarkable craftsmanship came from the hands of director Hillcoat and screenwriter-musician Nick Cave, who have previously teamed up for distinctly indelible works such as The Proposition. Even the soundtrack is mostly on-the-nose jug-band hokum, except for one cue: a searing old-timey version of the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat,” courtesy of octogenarian bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. If the rest of the movie had the same energy, spontaneity and soul, it would have been more potent than 190-proof hooch.
Author: Stephen Garrett
Wed Aug 29, 2012
Cast and crew
Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Shia LaBeouf