Viewed – 25 September 2012  Cinema

Strange how this movie has been hyped for its violence.  When first hearing of this depression-era crime thriller, the casting of the likes of Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Shia Lebeouf were overshadowed by the fact the movie was said to be rather graphic.  Directed by John Hillcoat (The Road) this actually turns out to be pretty much par of the course for gangster-type movies with very little to shock audiences who have seen Goodfellas or HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  Thankfully what does stand out is three solid performances and an intriguing setting.

The always likable Shia Lebeouf plays one of three brothers who begin a bootlegging moonshine business that attracts the interest of a corrupt lawman (Guy Pearce) who wants in on the brother’s profits, and goes to ruthless, murderous lengths to show he means business.  Lebeouf the more shy, timid of the brothers spends most of his time trying to win over the local preacher’s daughter (Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska), but when violence escalates, finds himself having to mature fast and face up to his enemies.

The only real let down here is the plot, which proves servicable at best, despite being based on a novel by Matt Bondurant, with a screenplay co-written by alt-rocker Nick Cave (!), but is helped by three solid characters and three decent actors all shining.  Pearce particularly impresses as the tailored, slick corrupt lawman with the worst hair cut in movie history, and a quiet but brutal Tom Hardy once again proves he’s one of the most interesting actors around.  I didn’t really understand the casting of Gary Oldman, who gets very little screen time, and overall this fell short of the greats, down to the rather simplistic plot and an ending that seemed rushed.  If like me however, interesting, larger-than-life characters and good performances can make a movie for you, then this is still worth seeing.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

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