LAWLESS is the kind of film that entertained me even while I was noticing its flaws.
The movie is about three brothers who make high quality moonshine in the hills of Virginia in 1931.
LAWLESS is well directed, well acted, and beautifully shot, but the screenplay feels both overly familiar and like it's missing some essential parts.
The Bondurant brothers are bootleggers who cut no deals with the law.
They're not about to give a cut of their profits to the federal deputy played by Guy Pearce even though he demands it.
And that means the brothers have to brace for violence, because this grotesque villainous deputy refuses to take "No" for an answer. It also means that anyone who hates bloody fights should skip this movie.
The brothers are an odd trio. Shia LaBeouf is Jack, the narrator and seemingly the main character. But Jack is something of a weakling and a fool for much of the film. His older brother, Forrest, played by Tom Hardy, is far more compelling. (Hardy played Bane in the most recent Batman film.)
The third brother, Howard, (played by Jason Clarke) is a wild man who drinks too much of the product they produce.
And then there's the always wonderful Jessica Chastain, playing a burlesque dancer from Chicago who's looking for peace, quiet and maybe a little love... in absolutely the wrong place.
The movie is full of cliched situations, but these fine actors make most of them feel real.
Bottom line? If you're not too critical and you appreciate good acting, fine cinematography and brutal confrontations, then you'll probably enjoy LAWLESS. But nobody should confuse this movie for what it wants to be: a period masterpiece like BONNIE AND CLYDE.