2013 must be the year of the gangster film if we’ve had two in a month, and like Gangster Squad, Lawless is a feast for the eyes with writing that will leave you hungry.
Lawless follows the true story of the Bondurant brothers – a family of prominent moonshiners during prohibition-era America. The film typically follows Jack, the younger brother, as he pursues his heavily religious love interest and indulges in the idea of becoming a big-time gangster like his idol Floyd Banner. The Brothers may have lucked out though as an incorruptible lawman threatens to close their business.
It’s not a typical gangster film, but those in love with the genre and period films will gravitate towards Lawless. In the end, it never hurt to walk away with a little history lesson, even with the extensive artistic licence.
The Bottom Line
As with many biopics, Lawless has its fare share of embellishment - this is Hollywood after all. That said, the film is notably slow paced and doesn’t seem to have the expected thrills and twists that gangster films are so well known for. What we do receive is a cliche plot that follows the outlaw life of these lesser known moonshiners through the occasional car chase and shootout, often to excessively violent effect. Lawless is authentic and follows a by-the-numbers approach to filmmaking, encompassing everything that one might expect from a period action drama, but its lazy, unambitious execution is evident. The acting is unsurprisingly top notch and one should give props to Jessica Chastain who had the guts to go topless in one of Hollywood’s most awkward love scenes.
Lawless attempts tension, but ultimately it is the lack of tension and excitement that puts this +2 hour adventure down.