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Lawless (2012)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  29 August 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 171,625 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 273 user | 352 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits.



(screenplay), (novel)
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1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Tolin ...
Deputy Jeff Richards
Sheriff Hodges
Tizwell Minnix


In 1931, in Franklin County, Virginia, Forrest Bondurant is a legend as immortal after surviving the war. Together with his brothers Howard and the coward Jack, the Bondurant family has a distillery and bootlegging business. When the corrupt District Attorney Mason Wardell arrives in Franklin with the unscrupulous Special Deputy Charles Rakes, the Bondurant family refuses to pay the required bribe to the authorities. Rakes pursues the brothers and unsuccessfully tries to find their distillery. Meanwhile Forrest hires the waitress Maggie, a woman with a hidden past in Chicago, and they fall in love with each other. Jack courts the preacher's daughter Bertha Minnix and deals a great load of alcoholic liquor with the powerful gangster Floyd Banner. Jack shows off in Franklin attracting the attention of Rakes that finds the location of their distillery. When he kills the crippled Cricket Pete, the locals join forces to face the corrupt authorities. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When the law became corrupt, outlaws became heroes.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 August 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Promised Land  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,001,566 (USA) (31 August 2012)


$37,397,291 (USA) (21 November 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Nick Cave:  The film's screenwriter and composer appears as a gangster shot by Floyd Banner early in the film. See more »


Throughout the movie, Spanish moss is shown. The movie was shot in Georgia, which has Spanish moss. Franklin County, VA does not. See more »


Forrest Bondurant: [to beaten up deputies] Now, you all oughta know better than to come around here when Hal's been on the stump whiskey for a few days.
See more »


Referenced in Film 2015: Episode dated 12 November 2014 (2014) See more »


Fire and Brimstone
Written by Link Wray (as Fred Lincoln Wray, Jr.)
Performed by The Bootleggers
Featuring Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan appears courtesy of 4 AD Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A terrific (true?) story. 87.5+%
24 October 2012 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

This movie is based on a book written by a relative of some of the main characters depicted in this movie...just looked up Wikipedia, and the author was Matt Bondurant, whose grandfather, Jack Bondurant, is called "the runt of the litter" of the Bondurant brothers featured in this tale of moonshiners in the age of Prohibition in America. That book was called "The wettest county in the world" and the title refers to how much illegal alcohol was produced in that area. The novel was adapted for cinema by Australian alternative rock icon Nick Cave.

The story concerns how the Bondurant's once cozy relationship with sympathetic rural police is changed by the arrival of a corrupt Chicago law enforcement officer, Charlie Rakes (played by Australian Guy Pearce), who wants a cut of the Bondurant's illegal liquor business. Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) is not one to cave in to these demands. Things get ugly, but there is some romance in this movie too.

Whilst being a terrific yarn, the quirky central performances won't garner any Oscar attention, I wouldn't think. Guy Pearce's dandy/fop take on Charlie Rakes is highly stylised and amusing before he just becomes a plain horrible character. Tom Hardy's take on Forrest Bondurant incorporates many big cat like purrs, which also amuse.

Set in America's South, you mostly hear Southern drawls, so if Cave's screenplay is any good, you will miss a chunk of it unless you can decipher the more unintelligible dialogue in this movie...which I couldn't, but I understood enough of it not to lose the plot. Early on in the film, the reality of life in the South is not elided...you will see signs of racial segregation...literally.

Even though this movie doesn't have a lot of violence in it, when it does occur, it is bloody and horrific...both in what you actually see happen and the horrific implied violence which you do not see...except for the aftermath. These moments can be very confronting...it's horror movie territory.

Since the movie is based on a book by a member of the Bondurant family, you have to wonder how much is fictionalised in order to paint the clan in a positive light. Watching the end of the movie, concerning a final confrontation with Charlie Rakes, you have to wonder if it really happened that way.

Whilst not a 'chick flick', there are some romantic moments. There's a little bit of comedy too...I'm not sure if Pearce's and Hardy's performances are deliberately amusing, but apart from that aspect, there are some other amusing moments in the movie. I also liked the singing you first hear when Jack enters a church to be close to a woman he fancies (Australian actress Mia Wasikowska. There is a big Australian contingent in this movie. I did see Noah Taylor in the credits but don't remember seeing him in the movie).

Apparently this movie has things in common with Cave's original screenplay for the Australian movie "The proposition". I haven't seen that movie but if you like either movie, it might pay to check out the other if you haven't seen it.

I could see this movie winning an Oscar for best picture or adapted screenplay.

A ripping yarn.

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