Trailers these days are getting out of control with spoilers. But don't worry, we're here to sort out whether or not you should watch a certain trailer beforehand. We'll take a look at how accurate the marketing is to a film's tone and plot, as well as warn of any spoilers it might contain.
The bad guys are good, and the good guys are bad. You spend the film rooting for bootleggers to get away with it, avoiding the law. The film tends to wash from violence to romance, but when the violence is present, it shoves itself down your throat (it's significant). The movie is a drama about America's flawed past. Corruption is around every corner, so you end up cheering on the most ethical criminal. There is a great beauty captured in the dust, humidity and dirty clothes of Lawless with director John Hillcoat running the show. The trailer makes this film look like it's non-stop violence. That's not the case. I also don't think freezing the screen and turning it to black and white actually does a thing for the tone of the trailer. Don't worry, that's not in the film. You do get the sense that these boys are up to no good, and it might cost them. The music in the trailer isn't anywhere near as powerful as in the film. Cowriter Nick Cave along with Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris have created a great soundtrack. It's a shame they didn't showcase some of their stuff in the trailer, because it fits so well with the film's vibe.
The Bondurant brothers actually existed. This is based on a true story of 1930s Virginia bootleggers, and the law trying to bring them down by any means. Everything feels a little exaggerated in the film, but that's for entertainment's sake. Forrest (Tom Hardy) believes he can't be killed. Jack (Shia LaBeouf) believes he should be allowed to sit at the head (bootlegging) table. Special Deputy Rakes (Guy Pearce) is all kinds of crazy. You'll see what I mean when you take a look at his haircut. Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain seem to exist to create a deeper emotional connection toward the Bondurant brothers, but I don't think I even needed it. In the trailer Gary Oldman is front and center. I think what I'm about to say is a "good" spoiler: Oldman is nearly a cameo. LaBeouf looks to be terribly arrogant. The trailer fails to show that he's nervous, and desperate to prove himself whether it's to his brother or his girl. The relationship with Hardy and Chastain in the trailer has some sort of sinister vibe I didn't really feel in the film. The trailer gives us all of the big names in the film and then an "AND GUY PEARCE." Normally "and" means it's a small role. Don't worry, you'll get plenty (and like it) of this villain.
I was truly nervous with this section when it came to the trailer. Mainly because there are a few surprises that happen early on in the film. I let out an audible gasp when watching a certain part of Lawless, and I hated the idea of it being ruined for you. When I saw this film at the Cannes Film Festival, the only image they had available was a pretty significant spoiler, so I assumed the trailer would be more of the same. Well, congratulations to the marketing team on this one. While they slightly bungled the tone and plot, they don't give away anything that would spoil. There is only one second of an image I would remove, but I don't think anyone will be able to connect the dots. Plus, they blend action sequences together so the viewer doesn't actually get a good look at locations. While they do use some third-act scenes, it's done so quickly that it shouldn't downplay any of the big screen moments.
You can absolutely watch this trailer with full confidence that you aren't going to learn too much. Hardy and LaBeaouf are the good law breakers. Pearce is the bad law breaker. People die. Moonshine is drunk. Enjoy.