Written by Zen Terrelonge
(Rating: 18, 116 mins) Starring – Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman.
It is not the violence that sets men apart, it is the distance that he’s prepared to go – wise and profound words from hard-as-nails, brass knuckle-wearing, alcohol smuggler Forrest Bondurant (Hardy).
It’s 1931 and post-depression in Franklin County, Virginia and the booze prohibition is in full effect. Naturally, that means business for Forrest and his brothers Jack (LaBeouf) and Howard (Clarke) is through the roof as the townspeople crave something stronger than river water to drink.
The cash flow greatly outweighs the risk of jail time, but the chances of that are slim given that the town police turn a blind eye to the boys’ profiteering in order to quench their own thirst for moonshine.
The easy ride ends when new detective Rakes (Pearce) shows up to rid the streets of the filth and corrupt – kind of like Batman. If Batman were a perverted monster that preyed on the weak for his own gratification.
No, Rakes is a bully, and shows how hideously vindictive he is when he launches a brutal attack on ‘runt of the litter’ Jack which makes for incredibly awkward viewing.
The attack itself was to get a rise out of ringleader Forrest, a man of few words, though words he offered to Rakes prior to Jack’s beating was that he’d gladly embed a hatchet in his head.
Looks like that’s already happened judging from the state of his hair though. (See photo below)
Despite the overzealous copper’s best efforts, Forrest and family drunk, Howard, continue to operate, which doesn’t sit well with the locals, nor Jack who tires of being treated like a spare part and looks to infamous mobster Floyd Banner (Oldman) as an idol.
There are two standout performances in the film, the first of which goes to Hardy. As I said before, Forrest is a silent type, which enables Hardy to inject a great sense of power and mystery into him. Furthermore though, is the way he’s animated with a series of – surprisingly understandable – grunts which indicates the cogs are in motion and something is hatching.
Round of applause two goes to Pearce. I’ve spoken to people about the film, and said when an actor can make you feel genuine hate and anger towards their character in the space of a few scenes, that’s when you know they’ve done a good job.
I’ve no idea why LaBeouf was penned as the headlining character in this film, he does what he always does and plays a clueless clown, though it’s something he’s good at as demonstrated in Transformers et al. Meanwhile, Oldman was severely underused to the point where I forgot he was even in the film.
At times a storm would brew, but die down with Jack attempting to woo the local vicar’s daughter (Wasikowska), which made for hilarity at some points, though it made the film quite disjointed as the pace would dip in the interim.