The Grade Book: “Lawless”


Plot: During the Prohibition era in Virginia, a group of brothers who bootleg must deal with a deputy and others who threaten to shut them down if they don’t get a cut of their profits.

Director: John Hillcoat.

Writer: Nick Cave.

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, and Gary Oldman.

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama.

Running Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes.

MPAA Rating: R.




SUMMARY OF THOUGHTS: Lawless isn’t the great crime drama it wishes to be–with script and pacing problems–but it is still a fine film. The production values are top-notch, John Hillcoat’s direction is fitting, and the cast is terrific — with Guy Pearce standing out among everyone.



  • Tyler Christian:

Grade: C

Apart from decent acting from the very talented ensemble cast, Lawless is ultimately a very paint-by-numbers film in the crime drama genre. The true story isn’t told in the most particularly involving way, where there are numerous scenes that are very slow-moving in their pacing. Admittedly however, director John Hillcoat continues to lend his trademark artistic style set amidst a world that is of period piece structure and characters that are usually physically worn underdogs trying to battle their way through the evil forces that surround them. As an overall film, though, Lawless is unfortunately as average as Prohibition-set crime dramas can get.

  • Chad Gleason (MovieManCHAD):

Grade: B+

Great Performances by all. Amazing production values. Wonderful direction, again, by John Hillcoat. Hi Jessica Chastian, my name is MovieManCHAD!!! Call me, maybe!!!

  •  Alex Perez:

Grade: B+

Despite some unnecessary characters and slightly slow pacing, Lawless is still a film very much worth seeing, thanks to an incredible on-screen presence by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and ESPECIALLY Guy Pearce, outstanding direction by John Hilcoat, a wonderfully tense atmosphere, and great characters.

  • Arelis Ramos (Shipper War):

Grade: B

Not a perfect film, but never the less a pretty great one! Surprisingly, the actors one would assume were going to be the obvious standouts in the film turned out to be the ones almost forgotten about once the film was over. Guy Pearce and Shia LaBeouf were both the true stars; overall Pearce being the top standout among a pool of amazing actors and actresses.

  • Daniel Rester:

Grade: B+

Lawless doesn’t quite reach what it was grasping for, but it remains an entertaining historical drama. For flaws, I mostly found that many of the characters were underdeveloped and the story lacked momentum at times. However, the cast saves the film, with a standout performance by Guy Pearce as the creepy deputy. Many of the production values are also fine, and Hillcoat’s take on the action scenes is exciting.



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