They fought the law . . .

Undated Film Still Handout from Lawless. Pictured: Jack Bondurant (SHIA LABEOUF). See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Momentum Pictures. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.
Undated Film Still Handout from Lawless. Pictured: Jack Bondurant (SHIA LABEOUF). See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Momentum Pictures. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.
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Total Recall (18, 115 mins)
Western/Thriller/Romance/Action
Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman
 Director: John Hillcoat
Released: Friday September 7

Based on a true story, Lawless knocks back a drink with three brothers who become kings of their close-knit community by running moonshine across the state line.

Set in early 1930s Virginia and adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novel The Wettest County In The World, Nick Cave’s script corrals its fair share of rootin’ tootin’ cliches to a fine bluegrass-tinged soundtrack.

Yet, for its dramatic simplicity, John Hillcoat’s film packs a hefty punch, exploring the bonds of trust that are tested to their limit when the bootleggers are pummelled senseless by the long arm of the law.

In the mountains of Franklin County, local cops turn a blind eye to the illegal activities of Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) and his siblings Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf).

The brothers run a successful bar and eke out a comfortable living by trading moonshine, made at secret distilleries.

The siblings’ business empire threatens to crumble to its foundations when sadistic Special Deputy Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce) arrives from Chicago on a mission to shut them down.

The subsequent, blood-spattered feud between the cop and a defiant Forrest underpins Hillcoat’s gritty Prohibition-era thriller.

Lawless pulls few punches in its depiction of the senseless violence meted out by the two sides.

Hardy delivers a brooding central performance, maintaining his stoic hard man image.

However, it’s Pearce who scorches every mud- and blood-smeared frame as a obsessive-compulsive bully who hides behind his police badge.

The Oscars love a bad guy and a Best Supporting Actor nod might well be Pearce’s reward for this simpering villainy but don’t expect such a happy ending inthe film.

When these varmints stray beyond the point of forgiveness, death is the only absolution.

n Swearing, Sex, Violence
n Rating: 7/10