Lawless: Movie Review

Lawless poster

When I saw Shia LaBeouf’s name I lowered my expectations. It’s just that I still associate him with Transformers, although I did like his performance in “New York, I Love You”. Fortunately, I was wrong.

The acting was so good, all the characters felt real. I particularly liked Guy Pearce as “Special” Deputy Charley Rakes, who brought a certain flair and oddity to the movie. He was both entertaining and disgusting to watch at the same time. To describe him, “loathsome” would be an understatement. And yet, I doubt I would’ve enjoyed the movie as much as I did without him. Think Percy Wetmore (The Green Mile) combined with Heath Ledger’s Joker (The Dark Knight) and a touch of Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds).

Next to Pearce, I felt that Tom Hardy did the legend of Forrest Bondurant justice. I found myself rooting for him through the entire movie while admiring him as well. He was hard but soft, a tough man but a gentleman to Jessica Chastain’s character, Maggie Beauford. Hardy managed to make the calm and collected confidence of his character endearing yet intimidating. And of course Gary Oldman was excellent as always, although I wish he had more screen time.

One thing I don’t understand is how Rotten Tomatoes categorizes “Lawless” only as a drama. Aside from the obvious “crime” feel, this movie also made me think I was watching a “mystery and suspense” movie. The whole movie I was on guard, as if somebody was going to die any moment or violence was just seconds away — which is a good thing.

It’s not, however, a very violent movie — there are a great many other with enough blood, guts, and organs to rob you of your appetite for a whole day. The violence wasn’t always shown blatantly on screen but also took place inside my head, which I like. I always prefer books or movies that leave some room for the audience’s interpretation and imagination. It’s fun to “fill in the blanks”, even if we don’t do so consciously. For example, sex scenes are much more intriguing if not shown explicitly and in details — if you know what I mean. Same goes for violence.

For it is not the on-screen violence that sets a movie apart, it is the distance it is prepared to go into our imagination.

(Yes, the above quote has been adapted from something Tom Hardy said in the movie.)

But of course, being a crime movie, guns had to be fired, knives slashed and thrust, some blood spilled. To me though, the most epic part of the movie involved Gary Oldman and a Tommy gun.


Sky Sairyou
Dec 30, 2012
02:47 AM
Antwerp, Belgium

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