Lawless (2012) – Film Review
Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Shia LaBoeuf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain
by Dan Berlinka
Director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave’s previous collaboration, the off-beat quasi-Western The Proposition has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as this latest venture. Although this time it is on a much bigger scale.
Once again, there’s a fine cast and a good feel for period and location. But the narrative itself feels disjointed and meandering. It never quite gets started. The coming of age elements in the sibling story feel over-familiar. Although the performances are generally fine, the normally electrifying Tom Hardy feels strangely subdued. Guy Pearce’s villain seems somewhat cartoonish, but there’s good support from Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasakowski.
“Surprisingly lacking in excitement”
Yet even their roles feel under-developed and serve mostly as a balm to all of the film’s bruised masculinity. Only Gary Oldman’s gangster seems to really hit the right tone and it’s a shame that his screen time is so short.
As a whole Lawless is certainly watchable enough, but given the talents involved it’s surprisingly lacking in excitement, and is weighed down by a sense of earnest self-importance. The kind of compromise movie you end up watching when neither you nor your partner can persuade the other to go to the one you really want to see.