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LAWLESS: “Maniacal and Just Downright Psychotic “

Shia LaBeouf as Jack Bondurant
Tom Hardy as Forest Bondurant
Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant
Gary Oldman as Floyd Banner
Guy Pearce as Special Agent Charlie Rakes
Mia Wasikowska as Bertha
Jessica Chastain as Maggie
In Theaters August 29

In Prohibition Era Franklin County Virginia (Franklin being called the “wettest” county in the world because a huge source of income for a great deal of its residents is making and selling moonshine), the Bondurant boys are bootleggers that have a good operation going, but outside interests that want a piece of their action threaten their way of life.

The Bondurant boys, headed by the oldest brother Forest (Hardy), have a peaceful understanding with the local crime boss (Oldman) and local law enforcement as do the other bootleggers. But powerful new politicians arrive on the scene looking to change the status quo. These politicians, who are really appointees of bigger gangster crime bosses from Chicago, include a county executive attorney and special agent Charlie Rakes (Pearce) who does little to hide his disdain for the “hicks” of Franklin County. They are there to bring all the other bootleggers inline and let them know they are working for THEM and not themselves any more. Reluctantly the other bootleggers agree but Forest maintains his stance that the Bondurant’s are independent men and won’t cave in. It is then that the powers that be, more specifically Rakes, begin to apply pressure to bring them to heel by any means necessary.

After a brutal attack on Forest leaves him hospitalized, youngest brother Jack (LeBeouf) takes over the family business. Idolizing crime boss Floyd Banner (Oldman), he strives to make a name for himself and prove he can be just as big a player as Forest while trying to catch the eye of the Mennonite minister’s daughter (Wasikowska).   All the while Rakes continues his reign of terror to bring the Bondurant boys under his thumb.

While Tom Hardy may not say much, there is weight in the few words he utters.  His performance is beautifully balanced by Jessica Chastain’s quiet, yet strong Maggie- an ex fan dancer who left Chicago to get away from the seedy side of life and got more than she bargained for.  Guy Pearce’s portrayal of Special Agent Rakes is absolutely terrifying; he’s evil, maniacal, and just downright psychotic in his relentlessness to break the Bondurants. Finally, Gary Oldman is a sight to see as he wields a machine gun (and also a shovel) with deadly accuracy.

Based on Matt Bondurant’s 2008 novel, The Wettest County in the World, about his grandfather and great-uncles, there is plenty of gritty, bang-bang-shoot ’em up action and suspense here. If you’re into gangster crime drama, you’re going to love this film.

5 out of 5 stars.

Check out the trailer for “LAWLESS” below:

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