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Lawless Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Drink irresponsibly before viewing. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    So stunningly photographed that the blood that spurts early and often in this grisly period piece is extra-vivid red. But that hardly makes the Prohibition-era story of a trio of bootlegging brothers feel authentic.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal John Anderson

    Lawless is one of those films that, through seeming serendipity, has a cast that defines its moment. There have been others - "The Breakfast Club," "The Godfather" and "Silverado," to name one irrelevant and two relevant examples. But Lawless really lucked out.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Hardy, speaking in low, flat, almost musically macho tones, has the bruiser charisma of a caveman Kevin Costner. It's not the money he's clinging to - it's the freedom.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    If Lawless doesn't achieve the mythic dimensions of the truly great outlaw and gangster movies, it is a highly entertaining tale set in a vivid milieu, told with style and populated by a terrific ensemble.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Outlaw brothers wage war in violent Prohibition drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Lawless is a dark, history-based drama that's not age appropriate for younger viewers, even though teens of all ages might be drawn in by stars Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf. There's lots of intense, cringe-inducing violence (including bloody scenes of torture, references to rape, and much shooting and brawling) and two scenes of nudity (one is sexual and one is menacing), as well as frequent use of strong language (including "f--k," racial epithets, and more). The themes are mature as well -- the heroes are murderous outlaws and the villains are ruthless dirty cops -- making the story too heavy for most teens.

  • Families can talk about the way Lawless portrays alcohol and drinking. How did Prohibition affect the inhabitants of Franklin County? Does learning that this movie was based on real brothers make you want to learn more about them and the era of Prohibition?
  • There are no truly "good" and "bad" characters in this movie. Which characters are the most sympathetic? Does the story glorify criminality? Who are the heroes, and who are the villains?
  • How is the violence in this movie different than in action movies? Which has more impact, and why?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The only positive message is that brothers have one another's backs and should be there for each other unconditionally -- but the brothers here are murderous outlaws who do lots of terrible things, and the themes are dark and mature. Viewers will learn something about the history of Prohibition.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: They're dangerous outlaws, but the brothers are incredibly loyal to each other, and Jack is very gentlemany toward Bertha, even though clearly his brothers wouldn't have cared if he'd tried to bed her. Despite her checkered past, Maggie is almost maternal toward Jack and takes care of the brothers. The "bad guys" are cops -- albeit ruthless, dirty ones.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Lots of unflinchingly violent and bloody scenes. There's some gun violence (a couple of shoot outs), but most of the violence is up close and personal: brass knuckles tearing through skin, a knife slicing a man's throat, a young man's neck broken, a boot smashed on top of a head. Someone is tarred and feathered. Rape is implied but not shown (bruises are later evident). The Bondurant brothers are brutal and take offenses to their family seriously. Every major character is nearly killed, and there's a body count from all the cops-versus-moonshiners-versus-gangsters fighting. A frightened and young-looking woman sits naked on a menacing man's bed.

  • sex false4

    Sex: For most of the movie, there's little more than long gazes between two of the brothers and their respective love interests. But in the final act, one brother finally kisses the girl he fancies, while another brother has an interested woman walk into his bedroom naked (viewers see her topless and flashing a lot of skin, but not full frontal) and get on top of him.

  • language false4

    Language: Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "motherf---er," "c--k," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "ass," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). And, because of the time period the movie is set in, there are also racist insults like "cracker," "hick," "negro," "hillbilly," "inbreeds," "mountain boys," etc.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: This movie revolves around making moonshine during Prohibition, so naturally there's a whole lot of drinking (frequently to excess). Lack of inhibition due to drinking is a theme of the movie. And because it was en vogue at the time, almost everyone smokes cigarettes, too.