Lawless – Blu-ray Review

November 18, 2012 – 3:45 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4.5 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 7.5 on IMDb
4.5 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
4.5 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
2.5 out of 5 starsBonus Materials are worthwhile with DVD & Digital Copy
Rated:R (Restricted)
Year: – 2012
Length: – 116 minutes
Studio:The Weinstein Company (Anchor Bay)
Region:Region 1 (A)
This uses 28.4GB for the movie out of 37.6GB total.
Street Date: November 27th, 2012

Overall VerdictGreat Film and Presentation

Buy it for $22.99 @
Buy it on Blu-ray for $22.99 @

— Review written by: Justin Sluss


The Movie Itself was directed by John Hillcoat whose previous films include “Ghosts… of the Civil Dead” (1988), “The Proposition” (2005) and “The Road” (2009). The screenplay was adapted by Nick Cave from the novel “The Wettest County in the World” written by Matt Bondurant — based on a true story. Most folks know the screenwriter Nick Cave for his musical efforts, usually under the name Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as well as composing Scores for films — including this one. Cave has also wrote the screenplays for two other (John Hillcoat) films: “Ghosts… of the Civil Dead” from 1988 and “The Proposition” from 2005.

The story (based on actual people and events) takes place in Franklin County, Virginia during the year 1931. The main players in this are a group of brothers, the Bondurants, comprised of the elder and leader Forrest Bondurant (played by Tom Hardy), Howard Bondurant (played by Jason Clarke) and the youngest Jack Bondurant (played by Shia LaBeouf). These brothers are notorious in the county for their bootlegging efforts during this depression prohibition era. Along with the help of Jack’s friend Crickett (played by Dane DeHaan) they manage to make the most moonshine and such in the area. They’ve also developed a reputation for being somewhat immortal, as they even have the local law enforcement on their side. That is until a corrupt special deputy Charlie Rakes (played by Guy Pearce) is sent in from Chicago to extort them for a cut of the profits, which doesn’t go over as planned and leaves him instead trying to shut down their operations.

Along the way you’ll have some other characters thrown into the mix, one of which is a mobster by the name of Floyd Banner (played by Gary Oldman) who will eventually play a small part in the story. The other characters here are two females that become the love interests of two of the brothers. Maggie Beauford (played by Jessica Chastain) with a not-so innocent past, is new to the area — originally from Chicago — and tries to make a friendship with Forrest to help with their bootlegging operation. She ends up taking on a job at their bar / service station and becomes part of the gang so-to-speak. Bertha Minnix (played by Mia Wasikowska) is an innocent young daughter of a baptist preacher. She catches the eye of young Jack who makes strong efforts to “court” her, despite her father’s disapproval. You have these two romantic sides of things going on for the oldest and youngest brothers while a huge war is being waged against them by the special deputy Charlie Rakes. He’ll end up making their efforts at bootlegging very difficult and getting the local law enforcement on his side. This causes one major conflict. That’s really where I’ll leave things to avoid dishing out any “spoilers” of sorts. Let’s just say things get intense.

Lawless on Blu-ray screenshot

Lawless” proves to certainly be an entertaining film and has an emotional side to it as well with the family element and a tad bit of romance. Shia LeBeouf gives one of his best performances I can remember in quite some time and Tom Hardy is excellent as well. This film had one great cast, namely the likes of Guy Pearce in one unforgettable role as the villain. The two supporting actresses Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska give really good performances as the love interests to the older and younger of the brothers. The dialogue here is great, the film’s music is a perfect fit and this all comes much thanks to Screenwriter & Composer Nick Cave. The film was received pretty well amongst critics, as it holds a somewhat nice 67% (out of 100%) on the “tomatometer” over at Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seemed to like it a tad bit more though as you’ll see it holds a pretty impressive 80% (out of 100%) from audiences over at Rotten Tomatoes and yet another pretty impressive 7.5 (out of 10) on IMDb. The film had an estimated budget of around 26 million and ended up grossing 37 million in domestic ticket sales and another 14 million in foreign ticket sales — according to Box Office Mojo. It’s safe to say it made its money back and is sure to find itself a larger audience now in its release to home video.

Lawless on Blu-ray screenshot

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications this was shot digitally in Hi-Def on the Arri Alexa camera. This looks great in its presentation on Blu-ray with a perfectly solid black level, accurate fleshtones and a somewhat vibrant color palette; despite being slightly subdued at times to fit the visual style of the time period and location. Not all of the scenes are subdued in terms of color though as you’ll see 11 minutes in where the beautiful scenery delivers some bright greens and such. There’s a great amount of detail here throughout the film, especially in some of the close-ups. The cinematography here by director of photography Benoît Delhomme is very impressive and is done complete justice. There’s really nothing to complain about here aside from a tad bit of digital noise present in some of the darker scenes, although it’s not at all bothersome. This sets the mood of things perfectly in terms of visuals. The motif via set design, the classic 1930s vehicles and costumes all come across great here. You’ll really almost feel like you’re back in this part of Virginia during the early 1930s. This earns itself a very impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.

Lawless on Blu-ray screenshot

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. What stands out the most about this lossless 5.1 mix is the original music composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, as well as the songs on the Soundtrack. Cave and Ellis formed a band specially for this film called The Bootleggers and did some songs in collaboration with country legend Emmylou Harris, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and Mark Lanegan (from the bands Screaming Trees & Queens of the Stone Age). It’s worth noting that Ralph Stanley has a few songs of his own here without The Bootleggers. The music here is superb and fits the mood of the film but most importantly fits the location and time period perfectly.

It’s only within a minute or two into the film when you’ll first start to notice the music getting a nice amount of rear channel presence, while being delivered primarily from the front left & right channels with a decent amount of LFE (bass). The sound effects here get that very same style of treatment in the 5.1 mix, primarily driven from the front left & right channels, with a good amount of rear channel presence and a nice amount of LFE. Dialogue here is distinct, driven from the center channel and is never once overpowered by either the music or sound effects. You’ll get a good share of sound effects here be it the sound of a Thompson submachine gun being fired early on in the film, hand-to-hand fights that come with some “punch” themselves, old 1930s cars being driven to the max or eventually some extreme amount of gunfire later in the film. The mix really is pretty subtle though for almost the first half of the film but it certainly starts to liven up so-to-speak. One of the first times early in the film you’ll hear the mix get somewhat near intense is during a scene at a church where the choir delivers a nice amount of use of the front channels, slight rear channel presence and an impressive amount of LFE. This is just a taste of that to come as things start to get a lot more intense as the film progresses along. The original music of the score gets pretty intense around the 56 minutes and 1 hour 5 minutes marks with lots of bass. The real highlights of this mix definitely come in the latter half of the film. To be exact near the end of the film. This mix never quite manages to go over the top but it does manage to do the film justice and earns itself an impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.

Lawless on Blu-ray screenshot

Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.

  • Audio Commentary with Director John Hillcoat and Author Matt Bondurant
  • Deleted Scenes (7:58 – HD) six total are included.
  • Lawless: The True Story of The Wettest County in the World” (21:33 – HD) features on set footage as well as interviews with Shia LeBeouf (Jack Bondurant), Guy Pearce (Charlie Rakes), Jessica Chastain (Maggie Beauford), Nick Cave (Screenwriter & Composer), Matt Bondurant (Author of “The Wettest County in the World“), Dany Wolf (Executive Producer), John Hillcoat (Director), Rachel Shane (Executive Producer), Jack Bondurant, Jr. (son of Jack Bondurant & father of author Matt Bondurant), Tom Hardy (Forrest Bondurant), Mia Wasikowska (Bertha Minnix), Douglas Wick (Producer) and Lucy Fisher (Producer).
  • Franklin County, Virginia: Then & Now” (6:11 – HD) comes with a nice blend of beautiful scenery, history and interviews with Charles D. Thompson (Author of “Spirits of Just Men“) and Roddy Moore (Director of the Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College).
  • The Story of the Bondurant Family” (12:44 – HD) is hosted by Author Matt Bondurant, grandson of Jack depicted in the film. Matt will offer up a collection of some of his personal photos (also used in his book) of his grandfather and grandmother as well as newspaper articles; to which he gives narration. This proves to be very interesting.
  • Midnight Run” A Music Video Performed by Willie Nelson (1:39 – HD) is a tad bit too short. This includes clips (with dialogue) from the film.
  • A DVD of the film in standard definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps is included in this “combo pack” release. This disc includes ALL of the bonus materials listed above.
  • A Digital Copy of the film is included on a DVD-ROM which is compatible with both Mac, PC and iTunes compatible portable media devices.

Overall the bonus materials here certainly prove to be worthwhile. You get some very informative and entertaining featurettes and a music video that total up to roughly 50 minutes or so in length. Plus you get an audio commentary featuring the director and author of the novel the film is based on as well as physical and digital bonus content in the form of a DVD and Digital Copy of the film. This is a pretty decent set of supplemental material.

Blu-ray Disc packaging:


NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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