Violence That Sets A Man Apart: My Thoughts On Lawless (2012)

(Spoilers Ahead)

I didn’t like it.

Surprised, right? Lawless has more than enough to reel me in. It’s a period piece, it’s directed by John Hillcoat (The Road– which was fantastic, by the way) and above all it has Tom Hardy in it. When people started sending me trailers I thought, “Well, I kind of have to see that.”

And now I have, but truth is I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand some of the plot, all of the needless, unprovoked beatings, the mumbled dialogue or why that naked lady was running along the highway, but… hey, let’s try to be optimistic here. I’m going to dwell on what I did like, so here it is, in no particular order:

1) Gary Oldman
2) Tom Hardy
3) Brass Knuckles

First of all, Gary Oldman. Because Gary Oldman.

Secondly, Tom Hardy. As Forrest Bondurant he plays an authoritative, soft-spoken but threatening guy who commands every scene he’s in. In short, he is Lawless‘s resident badass. He was also the only character I was emotionally invested in. When he wasn’t onscreen I lost interest, which was way too often. Waaaaay too often.

When I saw the preview it looked like his character was going to die a horrible, bloody death. Turns out I was only half right. Forrest keeps trying to die a horrible, bloody death but the movie won’t let him. Cutting his throat or pumping full him of lead are minor setbacks, like getting his tonsils removed or clipping a hangnail. This only makes his “eventual” death at the end of the film more painful because it’s THE LAMEST I HAVE EVER SEEN. Seriously, he just wanders onto a frozen lake and gets a cold one day? That’s the opposite of badass, and gives Lawless one of the most poorly written endings of all time.

This isn’t to say that I walked away from the experience empty handed. Halfway through the movie I wrote my mother and amended my Christmas list. All I want are brass knuckles, just like the ones Tom Hardy uses to end boring conversations.

(Sing-song) Yes, all I want are brass knuckles…

Like this:

Or this:

Or this…

Basically, I WANT ALL THE BRASS KNUCKLES. Let it rain brass knuckles, for God’s sake. They would be the perfect stocking stuffer.

Would I recommend watching Lawless in the end? Sure, go ahead. Shia LaBeouf doesn’t say “NoNoNoNoNoNoNo” all the time and his performance is serviceable. This movie not working isn’t his fault. In fact, I’d say it’s a step in the right direction for him.

You will also see plenty of unnecessary violence, if that’s your kind of thing. I think this movie and Drive should go on a cruise, fall in love and make babies. Really… so much creative, unprovoked, bone-crushing violence.

I kid you not- someone gets stabbed in the anus before the credits roll. After seeing that I said, “Man, Nick Cave is one sick bastard.”


6 thoughts on “Violence That Sets A Man Apart: My Thoughts On Lawless (2012)

  1. Damn, I’m of completely the opposite opinion about Forrest’s death, I thought it was a great mix of the godlike man slipping away once his work had been completed and also of the human being who ultimately is fragile, but in a much more meaningful way than physical strength.
    Good to see someone else giving LeBeouf credit for his performance in this one and yes – those knuckle dusters were brutal!

    • Thank you for your comment. It made me think twice.

      In all honesty, I understood that the filmmakers were trying to make a point about life and how it can be fragile. However, I had come to care about Forrest and thought it was sad (not to mention weird) that his family and friends just let him randomly wander off and accidentally kill himself after he had drank too much. It seemed kind of obvious that he had health problems and wasn’t fit to go for a stroll in the woods.

      Although it was more realistic I would have preferred Forrest die while doing something like this:

      A girl can dream, right?

      • Ha ha – I think that would upset a few people because of the realism issue that you mentioned, but maybe could be on the director’s cut, or an alternative ending on the DVD…? :)

  2. Very good points, but may I just say the reason Tom hardys character had such a bad death is because it’s a true story as you know, it’s not the writers fault Forrest bondurant died from a cold, you can’t change the end of a true story otherwise it’s not true. But besides that nice review, shame you didnt like it, I loved it.

  3. Its a shame you didnt like, personally its in my top 5. Tom hardy is one of my top 5 actors and thought this was amazing role for him, well played and portrayed. However just thought youd like to know Charlie Rakes wasnt stabbed in the anus haha, i can see why you may think it though. But no he was stabbed in the back in an upward direction to get through least muscle and penetrate vital organs, apologies for the depth of that comment.
    I find the truth behind this story and the good will intended by the Bonderants extremely noble and interesting.

    • Thanks, man. I’m relieved about the anus thing.

      I respect your opinion completely. Keep loving the movie. I do in my own way. Mostly in the “I wish I had a Bonderant as a bodyguard” kind of way, actually.

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