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Lawless (2012)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  29 August 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 171,628 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
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Did You Know?


Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke appear together again in Child 44 (2015). See more »


The movie is set in the 1930s, at one point a character is loading a shotgun with plastic shotgun shells, but plastic shells weren't introduced until the 1960s. During the period of the movie shotgun shells were made of thick paper with a metal bottom for the primer. See more »


Forrest Bondurant: Have you met Howard?
See more »


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


The Cuckoo Bird
Arranged and Performed by Clarence Ashley
Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recording
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Bondurant Family Values
2 April 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Lawless is the story of the three Bondurant brothers from Franklin County, Virginia, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, and the runt of the litter Shia LaBoeuf. Before World War I the Bondurants made a good living selling moonshine, but now Prohibition has arrived and there are new problems on the horizon for those in that business.

One of the most colossal pieces of stupidity that America ever indulged in was Prohibition. We actually amended our constitution so that we could regulate morals. A good lesson for those who think regulation of one's personal behavior is a desired thing. What the Bondurants have to deal with is law enforcement which is in the form of a corrupt District Attorney Tim Tolin.

An idea like Prohibition is sure to bring out the corruption in many who see it as a way to take bribes. Tolin is one of those and he has a special deputy in Guy Pearce ready to enforce the law and those who don't bribe. That would be the Bondurants and we have the makings of an old fashioned mountain feud brewing.

LaBoeuf has a lot of trouble living up to the legend his brothers have created. In fact his weakness is the cause of a lot of problems. But when a young mountain kid Dane DeHaan is murdered by Pearce that gets a war started.

Both LaBoeuf and Pearce deliver some standout performances in Lawless. This is based on a novelization of some real incidents by a descendant of the Bondurant family. The recreation of Prohbition era rural Virginia is well done. Definitely worth a look.

23 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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