Lawless Blu-ray Review - -
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
Lawless Blu-ray Review Although not quite reaching the heights of Hillcoat’s previous two efforts, Lawless is an entertaining and accurate portrayal of bootlegging during prohibition.

Feature 8.0
Video 8.5
Audio 8.0
Special Features 8.5
Total 8.5
Distributor: Roadshow
Genre: Action
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Reviewer: Sean Warhurst
: MA15+



Director John Hillcoat’s previous collaboration with prominent musician Nick Cave resulted in the superb Outback Western ‘The Proposition’. Hillcoat then followed that up with a starkly affecting portrayal of the apocalypse in his adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s book ‘The Road’. With Lawless Hillcoat’s not only adapting another novel but he’s also working from a script penned by Cave; considering these elements, it only stands to reason to assume that Hillcoat has caught lightning in a bottle again.

Featuring an ensemble cast including Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain, Lawless is the story of the Bondurant family, who control the production and distribution of moonshine during prohibition. Operating out of Franklin County, Virginia, a dusty little burg where even the police partake in a little bit of recreational inebriation, the Bondurant’s run a legitimate bar as a facade for their more illegal business enterprise.

But with a successful franchise often comes unwanted attention, and the Bondurant’s are soon confronted by Special Deputy Rakes, a sinister creature operating on behalf of the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney who wants to take a cut of their moonshine profits. The Bondurant’s refuse, of course, and set in motion a series of events that inevitably lead to bloodshed.

Lawless is buoyed by strong performances, particularly Pearce’s almost Dick Dastardly-esque villain (The incremental pressure he applies to the boys invokes a tangible tension throughout), a tightly written script and visceral flashes of violence. Hillcoat’s mastery of the camera is clearly evident here; each scene is guided with a deft hand and wrings some superb performances from the cast. However, Gary Oldman is criminally underused and his character, Floyd Banner, seems perfunctory but for the most part the characters are well rounded and believable. 

Punctuated with a laconic sense of humour, the mundane quality of day-to-day life in a small town is perfectly juxtaposed with the intense violence that comes with choosing to operate on the wrong side of the law. However it is the truly vicious Rakes who offers some of the film’s most cringe inducing scenes. The film shies away from stylising the violence, making it even more effective when it occurs.  


The requisite subplot of blossoming love interest never comes off as corny or ham-fisted, creating a believable bond both between Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain’s characters and Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska’s daughter of a fundamentalist preacher. Cave’s screenplay moves at a brisk pace and the attention to detail in the production is astounding – Lawless truly inhabits the era it’s portraying.

If any criticism could be aimed at the film it could be that Pearce’s villain may be a tad too cartoonish; I personally enjoyed his portrayal, but I can see how for some viewers it may dispel the realism slightly.  

Audio/ Visual

Visually Lawless looks great, albeit almost too clean. The image is crisp and clear and fine detail is clearly visible. The colour palette, made up mostly of dusty browns punctuated by the vibrant green of the countryside, is evenly balanced and the blacks are suitably inky. Some shots suffer slightly from banding but for the most part this is an impeccable transfer.

Lawless has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack that’s competent enough but falls slightly short in some areas, particularly the muted pop of gunfire. For the most part the soundtrack is robust and clearly handled and there’s nice differentiation of channels. The sound engineering is up to the usual high standard displayed by Roadshow and for the most part this is an extremely proficient transfer.

Special Features

Lawless has a nice little handful of special features, with the informative audio commentary with Hillcoat and Author Matt Bondurant being the main draw. The featurettes are all engaging and offer great insight into the history behind not only the production but prohibition and the Bondurant family themselves. The package is rounded out by a short little collection of deleted scenes and a music video by Willie Nelson.

List of features:

-      Audio Commentary with Director John Hillcoat and Author Matt Bondurant

-      Deleted Scenes

-      Franklin County, Virginia: Then & Now

-      Lawless: The True Story of the Wettest County in the World

-      The Story of the Bondurant Family

-      “Midnight Run” Music Video

Final Thought

Although not quite reaching the heights of Hillcoat’s previous two efforts, Lawless is an entertaining and accurate portrayal of bootlegging during prohibition. Commanding performances by the core cast are enhanced by Hillcoat’s even-handed direction and the finished product is one of the better films released in 2012, making it a fine addition to any collection.


   PlayStation 4
   XBox One
   PlayStation 3
   XBox 360
   PS Vita
   Wii U

   Movies & IMAX
   Crime & Thrillers


   Information & Fun

   Tara's G-Spot
   Loren's Level
   Mind & Body


Impulse Gamer is your source for the
latest Reviews and News on Video Games,
Entertainment, Pop Culture, Hardware &


© 2001 - 2013 Impulse Gamer


About Us | Contact Us