Lawless remakes the Western genre

Brutal violence adds rather than detracts from this stunningly effective take on the classic Western.

Brutal violence adds rather than detracts from this stunningly effective take on the classic Western.

Charlie Connelly, Staff Reporter

A country is in turmoil with the Great Depression just underway and the Prohibition riding in full force. The nation and Franklin County, Virginia are riddled with crime, poverty, and decent men are facing an indecent time. Every state, city, town, and street is perilous and watching your every step would look to be your best bet.

Director John Hillcoat and screenplay writer Nick Cave are collaborating once again in the bone-crunching true tale Lawless. Originating from the novel The Wettest County in the World, Lawless is the authentic story of three boot-legging outlaws, the Bondurant brothers. The dynamic trio, Howard (Jason Clarke), Forest (Tom Hardy), and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) all work in partnership to obtain their one goal: to do whatever it takes to make a pretty penny. The Bondurant’s’ know exactly what danger lies in their paths, but illegally or not, making money is making money. Operations run smooth as silk for them but various hindrances cross the brother’s plans along the way. Charlie Rakes (Guy Pierce), a malicious cop from Chicago, is designated for new assignment in Franklin, Franklin County famous gangster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) is on their tails, and two stunning women (Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain) with peculiar backgrounds frustrate the Bondurants’ chances with love.

The seemingly legend-like Bondurant brothers are at first perceived as innocent men, fighting their way to survive in their simple society, but as the story proceeds you really get a sense of the extremely sadistic angle to their lives. Violence and wrong doing is their way of life and no matter what adversities are thrown at them, very admirably, they always find a way to bounce back. The Bondurants are invincible, and through thick and thin, the brothers always stick together and do what’s right for the family. Actions such as vandalizing, brutal obstruction, and relentless murder, considered heartless to the vast majority of people in the movie, are perceived by the three crooks as essential to their success.

Before watching the movie, I knew there would be violence but I had no idea that it would be to the extent it was at. Personally, I am not hugely into violence in movies but I think the level of violence was essential in order for the movie to get its full point across. There was definitely violence in the movie that I feel could have been left out, but as a whole it was beneficial to the plot.

There are many fantastic aspects to the film, but along with every movie there are flaws that lie within. Lawless has a very slow start and by no means is the best attention getter. However, with that slow opening, the viewer can get a really good sense of how each character acts and reacts with others in the movie. Despite a very lackluster beginning, Lawless makes up for it with many exciting facets. With extremely magnificent casting, each character and their role in the story compliments each other in such a way that compromises all. Jack’s naiveté and Forrest’s invincibility complex clash in such a way that makes the story and its complexities so enjoyable to watch. Lawless is utterly the polar opposite of your typical, boring, western. It has suspense, action, gunfire, shades of horror, and blood, but there is another key component to the movie that really makes it work: love. The love affair that Jack experiences with the Amish raised Bertha (Wasikowska) and Forest faces with the city girl Maggie (Chastain) adds so much more to the diversity of the story that really offers a whole different audience for the movie.  To the average viewer, the movie may not have grabbed their eye but in reality Lawless had a very compelling story that made for a very fascinating movie.

Hillcoat and Cave teamed up in such a fantastic way that could blow away any audience and coming from a movie viewer who traditionally doesn’t like Westerns this movie really changed my mind about the genre. Lawless was marvelously composed and is definitely a must see. If you are looking for the perfect violent, crime filled thriller then Lawless is without a doubt the movie for you.