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Lawless - 7/9/2012 1:16:38 PM   
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Picture Spoiler!?!?! - 7/9/2012 1:16:38 PM   


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I'm pretty excited about Lawless, but I'm going to be very annoyed with Empire if the picture they have shown in the magazine and the picture they have used in this review are going to ruin any part of the plot. Tom Hardy on the floor shot and Shia LaBeouf also shot. Hmm!

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RE: Picture Spoiler!?!?! - 7/9/2012 2:22:29 PM   
Clarence Worley

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And then you proceed to spoil it for people that hadnt seen the picture - d'oh!! Good work both of you.


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That's what they're saying about me now? That I'm paranoid?

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RE: Lawless - 7/9/2012 2:44:35 PM   

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Joined: 3/10/2005
From: Belfast
I saw this on Wednesday with a Satellite Q&A thingy hosted by Empireís very own Chris Hewitt.  Poor Chris seemed poised throughout with a stricken grin as to how inane most of the answers supplied from Hillcoat, Cave and Noah Taylor really were/were going to be.  (Even if Nick was very funny it was humour out of aversion to the inane).  When Nick said that the source novel was filled with ďdialogue to die forĒ I really wanted Chris to ask why he never thought to put any of it into the film.

So yeah, I didnít just think Lawless was bad, I thought it was pretty deplorable.  It wants to obscure the obviousness of a crime story by making it a people story.  Which would be great if it could punch to the weight of that.  Instead itís a sort of idiotís versioning of what a classic movie looks and sounds like.  Hardy, who is supposed to be the core of the Bondurant brothers is wrought in his effort to put over an enigmatic movie performance Ė not, you understand, to find his character Ė but to find a memorable performance.  This is true of Worzel Gummidge-grade characterizations eleswhere from Guy Pearce and Taylor.  Itís like everyone on board revelled in the noxious preening overtures of Pearceís deputy.  No one seemed to notice either at the read-throughs or via the dailies that his dialogue is both obvious and excruciatingly witless. Hillcoat seems forthcoming (in hindsight presumably) to say that the use of caricatures was deliberate, but heís forgotten that you only get away with vulgarities like these if you couch them in a setting which is itself impressionistic or noticeably stylised.  Iím a sucker for grotesqueries of characters and have loved it when Scorsese or Tarantino assay them in their stylised impressionstic takes on different genres.  But Lawless wants to be a ďstill-waters run deepĒ (pardon the pun) movie and has no currency with which to tip a wry wink to the audience.  Suffocating the crime dynamic (actually burying it in a montage) means it hangs everything on an emotional truth itís simply never capable.  Intimate moments are dogged by obvious movie platitudes and Jessica Chastain deserves much better than the under-written sass-and-heart shade fed to her on paper.

With the amount of talent on board it was only going to be a sick God that would allow Shia La Beouf to be the best performer in it.  But he is, although ďbestĒ should be taken with a pinch of salt. His character is irritating and dull as fuck. Though La Boeuf functions where everyone else flounders.  The accent favours him perhaps more than anyone else and if his recent career has given him any faculty itís the ability to motor-mouth through breeze-blocks of dialogue and still be discernible.  A bad word canít be said about Gary Oldman, but thatís just because heís hardly in it.  Youíll like him in this if you liked Batman BeginsÖ but thatís just because he does a great impression of Tom Wilkinson in that. 

The thru-premise of the Bondurantís bon durability har-de-har is a pissant excuse for its far-fetched running joke, and pissant excuse for some Peckinpah excess.  Another thing Hillcoat doesnít understand and the whole thing climaxes in a shrill apoplexy thatís come far too late to even qualify for so-bad-itís funny.    

It should only be cruelty on my part to say this is the worst film Iíve seen out this yearÖ but Iím really struggling to think of something that takes the prized biscuit from this one.


(Iíve added a point since Wednesday for the soundtrack).

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Sorry! - 7/9/2012 4:31:10 PM   


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Hopefully I'm wrong!

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Post #: 5
Not as great as it should be... - 10/9/2012 12:47:50 AM   

Posts: 257
Joined: 28/4/2012
From: Oxford, UK
Lawless looks fantastic, but it feels unfocused. The whole film suffers from a meandering narrative that introduces characters, then forgets about them for half an hour or so while we focus on the minutiae of courting a preacher's daughter.

With 30 minutes more than it needs, it ends up trying to cover too many bases, and comes out as merely good. With faster pacing and a tighter narrative, it could have been great.


More reviews and rambling like that ^^^ at: >>> <<<

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Post #: 6
Lawless - not flawless. - 11/9/2012 11:49:12 AM   
Popcorn Required


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Was looking forward to this being akin to Public Enemies, but it was largely all surface sheen as it tried to juggle all its characters.
Was a bit surprised when the 18 certificate came up as I was expecting a middle of the road 15 to appeal to Shia Labeouf's demographic, but was generally happy with the excessive blood letting (especially liked the knuckledusters to the throat).
Tom Hardy was good with what he had to work with, Shia was 'meh', but Gary Oldman was woefully under used in what could have been a really awesome roll (I know he was just a periphary character,but surely he deserved more screen time) and yet still got 2 of the coolest moments in the film (Gary Oldman. Tommy gun. Awesome).
All in all it felt like that some of the depth to the character's was sacrificed as there was probably too many of them and they were concentrating on getting the prohibition setting perfect which they do do admirably. Was like a comic book adaptation without the comic book, but falling short of something similar like Road to Perdition.

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Post #: 7
RE: Lawless - 12/9/2012 12:29:26 AM   

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From: Not Local
Australian director John Hillcoat changes pace considerably from his last outing (2009's ultra-bleak but brilliant The Road) and delivers a hugely entertaining Depression-set drama about bootleggers in Virginia. Lawless marks his second collaboration with musician-cum-screenwriter Nick Cave who also scripted HillcoatĀ's 2005 Aussie western The Proposition. It documents the real-life expolits of the Bondurant brothers who distil and distribute their own moonshine and become embroiled in a bloody battle with a near-obsessive federal agentĀ's attempts to close down their operation.

Shia LaBoeuf gets what is arguably lead role as the youngest Bondurant who is desperate to prove himself in the eyes of his two older brothers. ItĀfs a good step up for LaBoeuf who manages to portray the cockiness and ambition of his character without becoming irritating. His romance with Mia Wasikowska feels a bit unnecessary at times but it does provide some amusing moments.

I can only presume that Guy PearceĀ's guide notes for playing primary antagonist Special Agent Rakes was Ā'more is more'h for it is truly a ham-tastic performance. Thankfully it never takes over the film and provides the audience with one of the most memorable Ā'love to hateĀ' villains in recent years.

The film ultimately belongs to Tom Hardy though. As middle brother Forrest, Hardy continues to be the best thing in all his films with a performance which by any other actor would have just been a brute in a stetson but Hardy balances it with liberal doses of sweetness and humour and is truly the heart of the film. That he manages all of this in your grandadĀ's cardigan is further testament to his ever-impressive talents.

A special mention goes to the ridiculously beautiful and talented Jessica Chastain who, following her performance in this and The Tree of Life, must surely be top of every directorĀ's casting wish-list.

Although based on a true story we are are certainly dealing with a heightened reality here. Many of the characters are larger than life, whether it be their physical stature (Hardy) or their grandstanding personality (Pearce). The supporting characters have an almost cartoon-like quality to their physical features making them immediately memorable and compliments one of the filmĀ's major themes of myth vs. reality. The pacing and direction is spot-on and the film never lets up until the credits start to roll. Amidst the sometimes shocking violence (and there is plenty) the thing which caught me off-guard most was just how much humour was laced througout the film. Hillcoat has stated that he purposely wanted something more colourful after the desolation on display in both The Proposition and The Road and itĀ's a direction which certainly sits very comfortable with him.

Highly recommended.

< Message edited by Biggus -- 12/9/2012 12:46:21 AM >


"They offered me a hundred grand. You wanna know something? When I found out I'd get my hands on you, I said I'd do it for nothing."

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Was totally absorbed. - 12/9/2012 11:57:13 AM   


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Not perfect and rather rambling plot but a fine capture of the period and some very convincing violence. Loved Guy Pearce in yet another volte of character. Dialogue hard to make out from several of the actors at times but lent to the authenticity of the time and place. The 112 minutes went past without me noticing which is always a good sign.

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Post #: 9
RE: Lawless - 13/9/2012 12:39:51 AM   


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If you are a fan of John Hillcoatís 2005 Australian western The Proposition or a listener of Nick Caveís gothic rock music, then you will feel right at home with their latest collaboration, based on Matt Bondurantís historical novel about his ancestorsí involvement in the Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy during the Prohibition era. Set in Franklin County, Virginia, the three Bondurant brothers Ė Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) -- run a successful liquor bootlegging business. However, when the brutal Special Agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce), is trying to destroy their line of work, it is up to the youngest brother Jack to rise up and fight back.

Being a fan of The Proposition, brilliantly conceived from the mind of Nick Cave, with his blend of the archetypal heroes and villains set within the violent Australian landscape, both Cave and Hillcoat are trying to achieve the same thing with this fact-based crime thriller, only to come out with mixed results. Whilst this is a fascinating subject to tackle, it falls on the lines of good versus evil, in a very clichťd manner, with a somewhat two-dimensional depiction of its characters and a rather romanticised view towards the brothersí violent actions, which doesnít entirely click.

However, what fails in Caveís script, Hillcoatís direction keeps everything well-paced and really pulls some violent punches to keep things gripping. Working once again with cinematographer Benoit Delhomme, the beauty of Franklin Country shows through its wheat fields and lakes, which fits nicely with the tommy guns blazing. What flaws he might have with his screenwriting, his music with Warren Ellis is a definite highlight with their bluegrass songs by artists such as the Bootleggers and Willie Nelson.

Despite their caricatured roles, the actors do the best they can, such as Tom Hardy who steals the show as the eldest brother whose silent manner suggests either terror or even humour. As an actor who can physically transform himself into different parts, Guy Pearce is truly menacing as the antagonist whose rather cartoonish appearance truly works with his shaved eyebrows and over-combed black hair (he could easily fit into a Dick Tracy strip). Whilst Shia LeBeouf is mature enough to carry the whole film despite the predictable journey from boy to man, Gary Oldman is disappointingly underused as once youíve seen his use of the tommy gun, which is in the trailer, youíve pretty much seen his performance.

Being a mixed bag with its somewhat unsuccessful romanticism of Prohibition-set gangsters, Hillcoatís latest offering is a decent enough western thatís held together by a great cast and a terrific soundtrack.

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Post #: 10
Harsh verdict! - 13/9/2012 1:55:18 PM   


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I was really surprised with how much I liked this. I don't care if a film is about washing up, I'll go and see it if Hardy is in it and he didn't dissapoint (with what he had to work with anyway). I'm not ashamed to say I love a bit of violence in a film and this seriously delivered in that department. Guy Pearce was excellent and Shia was ok. I really found I was gripped all the way through this and didn't look at my watch once (unlike when I saw Promethius). Bit of a lack of Oldman but it didnt really detract from the film for me. Most surprisingly was how funny it was. Best film ive seen since TDKR. Highly recommended! If there was a 4 1/2 star button this would get it.

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Post #: 11
RE: Harsh verdict! - 17/9/2012 10:29:46 PM   


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Enjoyed this. Thought it was just my age that meant I sometimes couldn't make out what they were saying, so it was a relief to hear that it wasn't just me. Beautifully filmed. Can't really say what I felt about the ending without spoiling it for anyone, but I was surprised to say the least!

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Post #: 12
RE: Harsh verdict! - 25/9/2012 7:07:45 AM   

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A film about redneck moonshine bootleggers, well yeehaw!. Apparently this is an adaptation of a book which recounts true events from 1931 in the USA. The story is actually based on the author's real family from around this era, he seems to be proud of his relations criminal activities then. Well its based on fact so it makes the film more interesting.

Visually this film looks the business, its gritty, violent and thoroughly well made from top to bottom. I love how everybody looks in their costumes, this period in US history was a smart time and on film it always looks good.

The main issue with this film is thus, clearly its aiming for epic Oscar status, that's fine but its not good enough. The reason being, in my opinion, the creators can't decide what they want this film to be. Do they want an epic grand scale tour de force a' la 'The Godfather' or do they want a graphic novel style kick ass flick a' la 'Last Man Standing' or 'The Untouchables'?.

The film starts brilliantly, with a good dust up from Hardy showing his position within the film and then the coup de grace. Oldman strolls out into the middle of a dusty dirt street and proceeds to tommy gun an oncoming old Ford jalopy to pieces. This one sequence is over quickly but its overly awesome and really gets you in the mood for an ass kicking period flick.

After this great kick off the film tends to lull for much of the run time with sparse bits of violence. The whole thing is lost in limbo between wanting epic Oscar status or violent kick ass graphic novel type status. The issue being the film achieves neither but hangs somewhere inbetween like a lost tourist.

The other shame is the fact the two best characters and actors aren't involved enough. Oldman is hyper as usual and just needs more screen time here, its as simple as that (although his character does remind me of Chris Walken's character of 'Hickey' in 'Last Man Standing') .

Whilst the best character by far is Pearce as the slimy nasty dastardly 'Rakes'. A kind of polar opposite to Elliot Ness, Ness was a crusading good cop while 'Rakes' is a crusading bad cop. He's only doing his job and upholding the law but in a really bent way hehe.

Both these guys needed more screen time as they both rocked ass and looked damn good doing it. Alas we're stuck with lots of the dreadful Labeouf (how does this guy get work!!?) and the very much overrated Hardy who yet again mumbles his way through this film also. This guy really isn't much of an actor, sorry to all you Nolan fanboys out there, tis the reality.

Despite the two guys I've mentioned most of the characters aren't exactly original, there is nothing new on offer here from this era, standard fair. The violence is harsh thundering and cool but admittedly cliched for this type of film, the thing is that's the best thing about the film.
Without much of the violence this would be a poor epic wannabe, with the violence its good fun but not as good as 'Last Man Standing' or 'Untouchables'.

To be frank the plot is highly basic and doesn't really deserve a film made about it. That said I can't deny that it looks lush and the brutal glorification of prohibition-era Virginia violence is too good to miss.

Hands up who wants to see Oldman smash some hood across the head with a big metal shovel in a fit of rage?, yeah that's what I thought, of course you do.

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Post #: 13
Tom Hardy good Performance. - 20/10/2012 10:13:28 PM   


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This is not a masterpiece but Tom Hardy & Shia Labeouf . Do good Performance's in this movie !

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- 20/12/2012 3:41:41 PM   


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I really enjoyed this film, it's not perfect (there again, no film is) but the story and the acting were strong enough to keep me drawn in and entertained throughout.

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GUY PEARCE IS TERRIBLE IN THIS! - 3/2/2013 5:39:18 PM   


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Post #: 16
Some People Get Shot And Some Shit Gets Bootlegged. Que... - 8/3/2013 1:28:34 PM   

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Lawless is a gangster film with more than a couple of stylistic nods to Bonnie and Clyde. The performances are surprisingly decent; Shia LaBeouf gives probably his best performance thus far, and Tom Hardy drawls his way through his lines in a manner befitting his character. Now, the film itself is very poor. The script is cliché and the screenplay is poor and predictable. It follows the traditional gangster story arc, tracking the crimes and the lawmen attempting to bring the criminals to justice. There's no satisfying resoulution and all the beautiful cinematagraphy can't make up for how banal the story is. It felt to me, if the film The Killer Inside Me (an equally poor film, in my opinion), were transposed to the gangster genre, and a few of the roles were juggled a bit, there'd be very little different. the thing that hurt the most though; the fact that this was written by Nick Cave, a man who, previously, could do no wrong. Well, he's done something horribly awry here. It's not a total write-off and I can definitely see some of my simple friends enjoying the bloody shootouts and the silly tough-guy performances, but for the most part, it's a pretty damp squib.

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