British actor Tom Hardy plays bootlegging brother Forrest Bondurant in Lawless.

British actor Tom Hardy plays bootlegging brother Forrest Bondurant in Lawless.

Reel Reviews: Drink in this Hardy boy

Lawless, starring British actor Tom Hardy, is a boozy bit of American history.

  • Sep. 14, 2012 2:00 p.m.

Three brothers, Forrest (Tom Hardy), Henry (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf), are Virginia moonshiners in the year 1931.

By way of having family members survive harrowing events during the First World War, they become legendary in their parts as men who can’t be killed.

Chicago gangsters (led by Gary Oldman) and a somehow corrupt and simultaneously over-zealous cop, Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce), want to test that theory as the boys have no intention of running booze “the new way.”

We say, “Watch it if you want to see a boozy bit of American history.”

HOWE: I enjoyed Lawless. Based on the true story of the Bondurant brothers, director John Hillcoat gives us a great insight and feel to how life was back in the early ‘30s: dirty, grubby and tough. You either stood up for what you believed in (even if it wasn’t within the limits of the law) or you got your backside kicked.

TAYLOR: I liked it too. It has action, suspense, drama and comedy. There was even a little romance. (Bootleggers need love too.) The cast was effective. Little Shia LaBeouf is good. (It’s nice to see him in a movie that isn’t stupid.) Of course, you’re never gonna hear me complain about Gary Oldman, nor Jessica Chastain (The Help, Take Shelter). However, I think in this film, it’s Tom Hardy that proves his worth.

HOWE: Don’t go knocking little Shia. It isn’t his fault that the roles that he has had in the past have been pretty naff. He was great in the TV show Even Stevens.

TAYLOR: I first noticed Hardy in Bronson, which is a little known, and interesting, British film where he plays a habitually nasty prisoner. Despite not noticing Hardy in Inception, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, or Sucker Punch, recent movie goers might remember him as masked baddy Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. This guy is a chameleon. I watched this entire movie thinking, “who is this guy,” only realizing at the end it was Tom Hardy, with a weird haircut and the croakiest whiskey drawl of all time.

HOWE: I don’t really think you could single out one good performance by any one actor. I thought everyone pulled their own weight. But I did like that they cast Guy Pearce in the roll of the crazy, power hungry cop. It made a welcome change to his nice guy image.

TAYLOR: Guy Pearce deserves his kudos. I’ve never seen him in such a weird, creepy light. All the performances were great, but only Hardy was amazing. If the standard by which we are to judge an actor’s skill is their ability to disappear inside a character, then I put Mr. Hardy at the top of his game… up there with the greats. I’m starting a fan club.

–– Taylor gives Lawless 3.5 Mason jars out 5.

–– Howe gives it 3.5 centre parting haircuts out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie critics living in Vernon, B.C.