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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Outlaw brothers wage war in violent Prohibition drama.

Movie R 2012 115 minutes
Lawless Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 16+

Intense, Graphic, Gripping, and Mature 15+

Strong Bloody Violence, Occasional Strong Language, Brief (non-explicit) Sexual Content
age 17+

Prohibition drama riddled with bullets and accents

Here's the positive thing about "Lawless": it won't make you hate Shia LaBeouf more than you already do. The actor actually carries the film quite well, and instead of the macho manly man like a lot of films in this genre put their main character as, he's a bit of a hotheaded weakling, who in the first 2/3 just seems to be the punching bag of everyone around him. Tom Hardy (when does he ever hit a wrong note, even when he shows little emotion?) plays the macho man, but not like his Bronson that catapulted him into fame. This is a man that crosses you when YOU cross him first, and he aims to silence. The third brother (poor Jason Clarke doesn't have too much to do besides being drunk and angry) is loyal but volatile, and this trio of siblings are moonshine sellers. When a slimy "special deputy" comes to get in on their racket and Hardy refuses, the war begins, and much, much blood is begot. I was surprised at how much violence there was in this film, though appropriate of the topic matter. There are underdeveloped characters, and some gaps that needed filling, but this is in tone with John Hillcoat's last dark, dreary film "The Road," but "Lawless" needs more of that character development and less unnecessary violence that doesn't serve a huge purpose (and a totally unneeded sex scene that just wastes time and exploits Chastain).

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (11 ):

This is a gritty, fact-based drama. Australian director John Hillcoat (The Road) has emerged as a specialist in dark, violent stories that explore family relationships under extreme circumstances. Lawless incorporates the dysfunctional sibling relationships from Hillcoat's excellent but ultraviolent 2005 drama The Proposition, but with considerably more loving -- if unaffectionate -- brothers. And what a trio of brothers Hillcoat has cast: LaBeouf may be the top-billed star, but it's really Hardy's Forrest who's the brains of the Bondurant operation (Jack being the heart and Howard the all-too-eager hands). Since appearing in Inception, Hardy has quickly emerged as one of the most effectively intense actors working today, and he outacts LaBeouf despite saying very little (he grunts more than he speaks, and when he does speak, he's usually slurring a Southern drawl).

The women of the drama -- Mia Wasikowska as Bertha, the beautiful but religious girl Jack fancies, and Jessica Chastain as Maggie, a former city girl with an irresistible attraction to the quietly fierce Forrest -- are fantastic but among several underdeveloped characters. There are too many men and too much going on to give all of the subplots enough time to develop (Gary Oldman pops up in a few memorable scenes, but then, poof, he's gone). Like in The Proposition, Lawless is a movie in which arguments are resolved with guns and fists, where the law can be evil (Pearce is practically perfect as the preening psychopath agent), and your blood and your name are ultimately what define you.

Movie Details

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