Hardy shines again in brutal but brilliant prohibition drama

Anyone who has seen 2005’s The Proposition shopuld know what to expect from Lawless - it’s brutal, violent, authentic, beautifully shot and brilliant.

Director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave team up again to produce a great film - this time moving the action from the Australian outback to Franklin County, Virginia, which has acquired a reputation as “the wettest county in the world”.

That’s thanks largely to the tough, seemingly invincible Bondurant brothers: Jack (Shia LaBeouf), Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke).

Their powerful and popular brand of moonshine has made them local legends. But everything changes in 1931 with the arrival of Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (a terrifyingly eyebrowless Guy Pearce). Once Pearce enters the film, it’s a game of cat and mouse as he makes it his mission to hunt down and finish off the Bondurant brothers.

LaBeouf, who normally gets out-acted by a special effect, puts in a surprisingly good turn as ‘the runt of the litter’ and the one who puts the brothers at risk and he tries to impress the local preacher’s daughter Bertha (Mia Wasikowska).

But the invincible Forrest will not let anything stop his moonshine business which leads to a violent and bloody climax.

Once again Hardy shows why he is in such big demand - I could simply watch him grunt all day (he does a lot of grunting!). Pearce chews up all thescenery around him and Jessica Chastain does her best in quite a thankless role.

The only real flaw - Gary Oldman is criminally underused.

4 out of five stars