Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: R Length: 115 minutes
Age Appropriate for: 16+. Like “The Godfather” set in Prohibition-era Virginia, with some cursing, implied sexual content (including two topless women), and a fair amount of violence, including fistfights with brass knuckles, artillery-heavy shootouts, a slit throat, and torture by castration and tarring. There is, undeniably, a lot of blood, but the violence is handled in a realistic way that gives the film historical context; it’s not entirely exploitative or grotesque.
‘Lawless’ has a smattering of problems—an uneven main cast; a few dangling plot threads—but ultimately the gritty adaptation of Matt Bondurant’s historically based novel ‘The Wettest County in the World’ is riveting, not ruthless. Guy Pearce and Tom Hardy are magnetic, and former ‘Transformers’ star Shia LaBeouf hasn’t been this likable in years.
By Roxana Hadadi
How far are you willing to go? To protect your family, to earn a little money, to do what you personally believe is morally acceptable? Whether good and bad are something the law decides or personalized to each individual is the question at the center of “Lawless,” the big-screen adaptation of author Matt Bondurant’s 2008 historical novel “The Wettest County in the World.” Drawing on his family’s experiences during Prohibition and the Great Depression in rural Virginia, Bondurant crafted a bloody tale of suspense—and “Lawless,” for the most part, lives up to it.