The story centres on the three Bondurant brothers in rural Virginia. Eldest sibling Forrest (Hardy) runs the family moonshine business with middle brother Howard (Clarke). But the younger Jack (LaBeouf) wants in on the action and secretly teams up with whiz-kid Cricket (DeHaan) to speed up production and sell their wares to a big-city gangster (Oldman). Then slimy city-slicker Federal Agent Rakes (Pearce) arrives, determined to stop bootlegging no matter who he has to torture and kill. Meanwhile, a sexy barmaid (Chastain) with a shady past arrives to distract Forrest, while Jack daringly woos the rebellious daughter (Wasikowska) of the local preacher.
Yes, there are a lot of characters in this film, and they interlink together on a variety of levels that makes the film feel almost literary in the way it approaches the story and themes. Indeed, it's based on the acclaimed historical novel The Wettest County in the World, written by Matt Bondurant, Jack's grandson. And the detail in the characters makes each of these people utterly riveting. All of them are caught in a moral dilemma, dodging official rules that are hindering their lives, and Rakes represents the strong arm of the system trying to crush them. It's probably no surprise that Pearce never really tries to make this vile character even remotely sympathetic.
Hardy is terrific in the lead role, deploying that Bane physicality in a quietly intense way that's sometimes even more terrifying than it was in The Dark Knight Rises. And Chastain is also impressive with her fiery internal toughness. Hillcoat and Cave ground even the film's most grisly moments in honest realism, with textured photography and music (by Cave and Warren Ellis) that adds to the mythological feel of a film that is itself about the creation of a lasting legend that might not be completely true. A fascinating, fiercely haunting movie.
Run time: 116 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 29th August 2012
Box Office USA: $37.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $53.7M
Distributed by: The Weinstein Company
Production compaines: Benaroya Pictures, Weinstein Company, The, Yucaipa Films, Revolt Films, Annapurna Pictures, Pie Films Inc.
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 135 Rotten: 66
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: John Hillcoat
Screenwriter: Nick Cave
Starring: Shia LaBeouf as Jack Bondurant, Tom Hardy as Forrest Bondurant, Guy Pearce as Charlie Rakes, Jessica Chastain as Maggie Beauford, Mia Wasikowska as Bertha Minnix, Dane DeHaan as Cricket Pate, Noah Taylor as Gummy Walsh, Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant, Lew Temple as Deputy Henry Abshire, Jessica Chastain as Maggie Beauford, Gary Oldman as Floyd Banner, Marcus Hester as Deputy Jeff Richards, Bill Camp as Sheriff Hodges, Alex Van as Tizwell Minnix
One of the strongest action thrillers in recent years, this gripping movie cleverly casts actors...
Meryl Streep is having so much fun playing an ageing rocker that the audience only...
Like James Bond, wilfully anonymous driver Frank Martin is reborn as a new actor without...
Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...
This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...
Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...
As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...
After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...