100 movies: Lawless

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100 movies of 2012
Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy!

LawlessLawless (30/08/12)

Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.

Lawless was a film I was looking forward to. I was looking forward to Lawless being that end of summer hit. After all the blockbusters were over with, in would come this great little film with a fantastic cast that would just end the summer film season perfectly.

I didn’t quite get my wish. See, I think my expectations were too high. Aside from the Shia inclusion, I was blown away by the casting in this film. Not just Tom Hardy in a leading role, but Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce. That is a whole lot of good to fit into a film. And it turns out, there just wasn’t enough film to fit all those good people in it.

Lawless is based on the true story of the Bondurant boys – a family of bootleggers. Like the IMDB summary says, their way of life is threatened when Guy Pearce’s Rakes enters the game and his only goal is to get shot of al booze in the county. Simple story. Which is fine. But the story itself didn’t amount to much. Thing happened. But there was never a real climax. It felt like watching a very pedestrian story of a family of bootleggers. Well, ignoring all the bloody violence, of which there was a fair amount of.

Alongside that, the players in the film, while great, I left the cinema wondering why they were in it. Gary Oldman’s Floyd Banner was pretty much a cameo appearance. I wanted more Oldman – he was great in those short minutes we got him. Jessica Chastain’s Maggie was barely in it and her role just about amounted to a bit of eye candy. Why was she there? Tom Hardy was fantastic as one of the Bondurant boys. With a mere grunt he could convey so much! Also, I don’t think there has been such a manly man who can pull of cardigans as well as Tom Hardy did here. Jason Clarke was another stand-out for me. The ever loyal but oh so drunken Howard. The last thing I saw him in was The Chicago Code (which I do still miss). What about Shia LaBeouf? Well, I was pleasantly surprised by his performance here. BUT. I don’t think he has the chops for such a heavy leading role.

Lawless did have a great score and a beautiful selection of songs. It felt like it could be authentic. That you were watching this true story of the Bondurant boys. I just wish something happened towards the end.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

68 Films so far this year

  1. The Tourist 1/5 (02/01/12)
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 5/5 (03/01/12)
  3. World’s Greatest Dad 2/5 (14/01/12)
  4. Haywire 3/5 (19/01/12)
  5. Dead Snow 3/5 (20/01/12)
  6. The Artist 5/5 (21/01/12)
  7. Priest 2/5 (05/02/12)
  8. The Muppets 5/5 (15/02/12)
  9. Faster 4/5 (19/02/12)
  10. Chronicle 4/5 (22/02/12)
  11. Safe House 4/5 (24/02/12)
  12. Reservoir Dogs 4/5 (25/02/12)
  13. This Means War 4/5 (02/03/12)
  14. The Royal Tenenbaums 3/5 (03/03/12)
  15. Reign of Fire 3/5 (04/03/12)
  16. Dear John 2/5 (04/03/12)
  17. Road to Perdition 5/5 (05/03/12)
  18. The Three Musketeers 3/5 (06/03/12)
  19. The Eagle 2/5 (10/03/12)
  20. Everybody’s Fine 2/5 (14/03/12)
  21. Frankenstein 4/5 (15/03/12)
  22. Love and Other Drugs 2/5 (15/03/12)
  23. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger 2/5 (17/03/12)
  24. The Big Lebowski 5/5 (18/03/12)
  25. The Hunger Games 3/5 (23/03/12)
  26. Headhunters 4/5 (07/04/12)
  27. Super 1/5 (07/04/12)
  28. The Cabin in the Woods 5/5 (13/04/12)
  29. Watchmen 4/5 (14/04/12)
  30. The Hurt Locker 3/5 (21/04/12)
  31. Avengers Assemble 5/5 (26/04/12)
  32. 22 Bullets 2/5 (28/04/12)
  33. Bad Teacher 1/5 (29/04/12)
  34. Red Riding Hood 1/5 (04/05/12)
  35. A Perfect Getaway 4/5 (05/05/12)
  36. Ca$h 1/5 (13/05/12)
  37. Kung Fu Panda 2 3/5 (14/05/12)
  38. Everything Must Go 2/5 (24/05/12)
  39. New York, I Love You 2/5 (25/05/12)
  40. Beginners 4/5 (26/05/12)
  41. Prometheus 4/5 (03/06/12)
  42. The Tree of Life 2/5 (04/06/12)
  43. The Lovely Bones 3/5 (05/06/12)
  44. Snow White and the Huntsman 3/5 (06/06/12)
  45. The Devil’s Backbone 4/5 (07/06/12)
  46. Britain in a Day 5/5 (11/06/12)
  47. The French Connection 4/5 (15/06/12)
  48. Insomnia 3/5 (16/06/12)
  49. Rebel Without a Cause 4/5 (22/06/12)
  50. A Lonely Place to Die 3/5 (26/06/12)
  51. Killer Joe 3/5 (29/06/12)
  52. The Amazing Spider-Man 4/5 (03/07/12)
  53. Raising Arizona 4/5 (04/07/12)
  54. Horrible Bosses 4/5 (06/07/12)
  55. Broadcast News 3/5 (07/07/12)
  56. We Need to Talk About Kevin 4/5 (07/07/12)
  57. Miller’s Crossing 4/5 (18/07/12)
  58. The Dark Knight Rises 5/5 (20/07/12)
  59. 21 Jump Street 5/5 (29/07/12)
  60. The Mystery Team 3/5 (07/08/12)
  61. The Help 4/5 (11/08/12)
  62. The Bourne Legacy 3/5 (13/08/12)
  63. The Expendables 2 4/5 (17/08/12)
  64. Brave 5/5 (19/08/12)
  65. Dracula 3/5 (19/08/12)
  66. The Woman in Black 3/5 (24/08/12)
  67. The Mummy 4/5 (28/08/12)
  68. Lawless 3/5 (30/08/12)


  1. I really don’t get why people who got Oldman and Chastain in their movie wouldn’t use them more? That’s silly. I’ll probably catch this on DVD, can’t stand Shia on big screen.

    • Completely. Both of their roles were so tiny! Oldman was so good in his part. Just couldn’t understand why it had to be so damn small.

    • I loved how it looked and the music and score. Tom Hardy’s excellent. That’s why I gave it a 3. It’s a low 3 though.

  2. I don’t know what to expect about Lawless, I only know Hardy is in it and I want to see him 🙂 But it seems people have mixed reviews about it. 68 movies, you’re getting close!

  3. Yeah I love that cast too. Will have to readjust my expectations to avoid disappointment by the sound of things.

  4. Good review Jaina. I had a bunch of fun with this, and I think that’s mainly because of what the cast was able to do with all of their respective roles. Was a bit too slow for my liking but still a great film that ends the Summer with a bang, and a bang, and another bang after that.

    • It was very slow. I just felt the pacing was a bit all over the place.

      The cast are is the best thing about this film. They make it more memorable than it ought to be.

  5. I’m finally getting around to reading other reviews on this, and it sounds like most pretty much have the same issues with the film.

    I thought Pearce and Hardy stood out above everyone else. I’d include Gary Oldman if he’d beein in the movie for more than 7 minutes. I will admit though that in the short time we see Oldman, it made me want to see him play a true villainous role.

    I too was surprised by how good I thought Shia was as Jack. I think he needs to make better career choices and this was a good one; although I still feel like he was overshadowed by the talent surrounding him.

    Overall though, I too enjoyed the movie, I just thought there should have been more.

    • Seeing Oldman here made me want to go back and watch Leon. He played a great villain there. Shia was good, better than I was expecting. But still didn’t think he has enough skill to play such a heavy character.

  6. I LOVED the Chicago Code and was upset when it got canned. So I was glad to see Clarke here too. (high five to you, Jaina)

    I enjoyed this one. and, yes, while I wanted more from Oldman it was nice to see Shia step up and do well.

    remember Ray Bidwell in The Chicago Code? The character who was Teresa’s bodyguard in the show? played by Warren Kole (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1504650/)? well, Warren and I got to chat during filming The Avengers and I told him how much I loved the show. He had nothing but high praise to talk about Jason Clarke, so when I saw Clarke in this movie was immediately sold on seeing it…

    all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Lawless. Great review.

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