The Shia LaBeouf Crime Thriller On Netflix Is A Shockingly True Story

By Doug Norrie | Published

Shia LaBeouf

Step back in time to the Prohibition era with the rustic, bootlegging drama, Lawless. Currently available for a nostalgic stream on Netflix, this moonshine-soaked tale gives you a glimpse into the rebellious Bondurant brothers and their illicit endeavors. Leading the pack is none other than the ever-versatile Shia LaBeouf, who delivers a performance as intoxicating as the family’s signature brew. So, grab your flapper dress or fedora, and prepare for a wild ride through Virginia’s backwoods!

Lawless, set against the backdrop of the Prohibition-era American South, unravels the tale of the Bondurant brothers, a defiant trio that made and sold moonshine, challenging the law and any rival bootleggers who dared to tread on their territory. With the gritty hills of Virginia as their backdrop, the brothers battle it out with authorities, rival gangsters, and their own inner demons.

Lawless stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jessica Chastain in a movie about Prohibition-era American South

Shia LaBeouf shines as the youngest of the brothers, Jack Bondurant. Eager to prove his worth and step out of the shadows of his tougher older siblings, Jack gets tangled in the more dangerous aspects of the bootlegging business, craving both respect and riches. His passionate ambition often leads him down treacherous paths, but Shia ensures that Jack remains an endearing figure throughout the narrative.

Shia LaBeouf

Along with Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, gruffly charismatic as ever, plays the role of Forrest Bondurant, the middle brother and the quasi-head of the family. He’s the silent and stoic type, with a fierce sense of loyalty and a reputation of being indestructible. Hardy’s portrayal provides the grounding force against Shia’s fiery passion, creating a balanced dynamic between the siblings.

Jason Clarke rounds out the trio as the eldest, Howard Bondurant. Wild, unpredictable, and fiercely loyal, Howard ensures the family’s operations run smoothly, often acting as the muscle when things get dicey. The chemistry between the three (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke) is palpable, making their fraternal bond the heartbeat of the film.

But Lawless isn’t just about the brothers. Jessica Chastain plays Maggie, a former dancer from the city who becomes entangled with the Bondurants, both business-wise and romantically with Forrest. Mia Wasikowska is Bertha, a preacher’s daughter and the apple of Jack’s eye, offering a softer, romantic subplot amidst the film’s violent undertones.

The cast is further elevated by the presence of Gary Oldman as gangster Floyd Banner and Guy Pearce as the wickedly corrupt Special Deputy Charlie Rakes, who becomes the brothers’ main antagonist.

Directed by John Hillcoat and based on the true story novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant (a descendant of the real Bondurant brothers), Lawless delivers a gritty, intense, yet sometimes tender portrayal of family ties and rebellion. The music, setting, and cinematography wrap the audience in a world where honor among thieves was more than just a saying—it was a way of life.

Lawless is based on the true story novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant

Lawless was met with generally favorable reviews upon its release, with many critics praising its gritty depiction of Prohibition-era Virginia and the palpable chemistry between its ensemble Shia LaBeouf-led cast.

The film’s atmosphere, which successfully captures the era’s tension and volatility, was often cited as one of its strengths. The music and cinematography were particularly lauded for immersing viewers into the world of the Bondurant brothers.

Shia LaBeouf, often recognized for his roles in blockbuster franchises, received a notable amount of praise for his portrayal of Jack Bondurant. Critics noted his ability to balance vulnerability with determination, effectively showcasing the character’s evolution from an ambitious youngster to a more hardened figure by the film’s end.

Shia LaBeouf’s performance was seen as proof that he could hold his own in a more dramatic setting, contrasting his earlier roles in action-packed blockbusters.

However, while Shia LaBeouf’s performance was largely appreciated, Tom Hardy‘s portrayal of Forrest Bondurant garnered significant attention, with some critics opining that he stole the show. His stoic demeanor and subtle depth provided a powerful counterpoint to Shia’s more expressive role.

Nevertheless, not all reviews were glowing. Some critics felt that Lawless, while visually engaging and well-acted, sometimes fell into genre clichés and lacked depth in its narrative. There were also opinions that, despite the movie’s potential, it didn’t quite delve deep enough into the moral and emotional complexities of its characters.

In summary, while Lawless had its detractors, the film was generally well-received, and Shia LaBeouf’s performance stood out as one of his more mature and nuanced roles, further establishing him as a versatile actor capable of handling a range of characters and genres.

All in all, Lawless stands as a testament to the tumultuous Prohibition era, weaving both historical significance with fictional flair. While it might not be flawless, Shia LaBeouf’s commendable performance, coupled with a captivating ensemble cast, makes this movie a worthy watch for those in search of gritty period dramas. So, if you’ve got a hankering for moonshine, danger, and a dash of Shia LaBeouf, hit play on Netflix and let Lawless take you for a wild ride.