Movie Time Capsule- Remember These Movies: August 2012

It may be September, but we’re keeping Movie Time Capsule- Remember These Movies alive by discussing the movies released in August 2012. The last month of the summer movie season usually gives us forgettable features that weren’t good enough for June. We received some sort of action film every week. Though nothing released wasn’t a huge moneymaker, much like The Help or Rise of the Planet of the Apes did the year before. But the last two weeks of August showed a clear sign we were waiting for the good stuff to come out. Did I see everything it had to offer? Well, I didn’t waste my money and time on The Possession and the box office bombs of The Apparition (the horror movie that spoiled the ending in the trailer and poster) and The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (the biggest box office bomb of all time opening in at least 2,000 theaters), respectively. 

Around this time, I saw starting my sophomore year of high school, where it was difficult trying to remember what even happened besides getting annoyed with most of my peers. It was also when my sister went to college, so it was strange not having her living at home.

Have you seen the following 12? Take a read-through of the best and worst of August 2012:

August 3: ‘Total Recall’

Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, and Bill Nighy

Directed By: Len Wiseman

Synopsis: In need of a vacation from his ordinary life, factory worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) visits Rekall, a company that can turn dreams into real memories. Thinking that memories of life as a superspy are just the ticket, Quaid undergoes the procedure — but it goes horribly wrong. Suddenly, Quaid is a hunted man. He teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) on a search to find the head of the underground resistance and take down the leader (Bryan Cranston) of the free world.

Domestic Box Office: $58.8 Million/ Worldwide: $198. 4 Million

RT Score: 31%

My Thoughts: Remaking classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movies will always be a mistake. Safe to say, nobody was looking forward to a new Total Recall for the 21st century. The 1990 original from Paul Voulhoven is a sci-fi classic with amazing visuals and enough campy substance to satisfy all. So it wasn’t such a shock to find out this 2012 remake doesn’t even compare when little creativity is found. There’s nothing to connect with since it settles on being bleak and emotionless, resulting in a movie taking itself way too seriously. I can deal with it not taking place on Mars, but it never tried attempting to be anything new, even if you haven’t seen the original. Colin Farrell is always a capable star when he needs to be, and his performance as Doug Quaid is okay; he just didn’t have much to work for. That goes the same with his female costars Kate Beckinsale and the Razzie-nominated Jessica Biel, who didn’t have to be in this either. Instead of being a brilliant piece of science fiction, director Les Wiseman (whose only good film is Live Free or Die Hard) resorted to bland action sequences that’ll put you to sleep. Except, for the opening sequence that nearly gave me a headache from the flashing lights with no warning. And it has to deal with a script that was frankly boring and difficult to follow at times. Did I expect this to be better? To quote Doug, “No shit.” But this should’ve at least tried to entertain or impress me. They didn’t use Bryan Cranston as Cohagen properly; just wasted. Total Recall shows profoundly as a forgettable and unnecessary remake with no personality that leaves me baffled for anyone who actually enjoyed this ten years ago. There are better Philip K. Dick adaptations worth your time, like Minority Report, which also has Farrell. 

Grade: C-

‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’

Cast: Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Peyton List, Grayson Russell, and Karan Brar

Directed By: David Bowers

Synopsis: It’s summertime, and Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is looking forward to playing video games and spending time with his friends. However, Greg’s dad (Steve Zahn) has other plans: He’s decided that some father-son bonding time is in order. Desperate to prevent his dad from ruining summer vacation, Greg pretends he has a job at a ritzy country club. But Greg’s plan backfires, leaving him in the middle of embarrassing mishaps and a camping trip gone wrong.

Domestic Box Office: $49 Million/ Worldwide: $77.2 Million

RT Score: 52%

My Thoughts: You know the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was popular when it’s a packed theater on a Sunday afternoon. For us, these three movies based on Jeff Kinney’s beloved book series are the only ones that matter. And while I consider the third installment, Dog Days, to be the weakest, regarding the plot threads that came and went with the usual slapstick, I still had a good time. Those familiar already know what misadventures Greg will head into during his summer vacation. Will he find Holly’s number? Will he find Holly’s number and not get friend-zoned? Will he enjoy sneaking into the Country Club? That’s the kind of shenanigans you have to expect unless this marks your first time watching one of these. Yeah, it’s obvious the kids were getting older (explaining the recasting in the reboot), but I have to applaud Zachary Gordon for being a perfect underdog in Greg. And I still get a kick out of Steve Zahn as his dad when he attempts to spend more time with his son. The father-son dynamic is charming to watch how different they are and learn the expectations both have of each other. Even though it shares the same elements as its first two predecessors, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is still a fun and funny family film to come out at the most appropriate time of summer.

Grade: B

August 8: ‘Hope Springs’

Cast: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, Elisabeth Shue, Jean Smart, Brett Rice, and Mimi Rogers

Directed By: David Frankel

Synopsis: Long-married couple Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) love each other, but after so many years together, Kay feels the need to spice things up and reconnect with her husband. Hearing of a renowned marriage counselor (Steve Carell) in the town of Great Hope Springs, Kay manages to persuade her stubborn mate to attend a retreat with her. As they shed their bedroom hang-ups, Kay and Arnold find that the real challenge is reigniting the spark that originally brought them together.

Domestic Box Office: $63.5 Million/ Worldwide: $114.2 Million

RT Score: 75%

My Thoughts: Hope Springs was definitely a romantic comedy intended for a much older demographic. But 16-year-old me wanted to watch it after school on a weekday solely because it had Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell. And while it’s impossible to relate to the characters in any shape or form, I have to hand it to the cast and director David Frankel for a delightful time. This has its sweet moments in a very simple story that makes you want to care about this couple, Kay and Arnold, trying to rekindle their marriage. Of course, with Oscar winners like Streep and Jones in your movie, you already know the type of performances they’ll give. But I love how Carell’s performance since it was a surprise to see him as the most restrained person alongside two actors above his stature. You’ll find this enjoyable if you can handle a scene involving a movie theater that can either be uncomfortable or somehow arousing.

Grade: B

August 10: ‘The Bourne Legacy’

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacey Keach, Oscar Isaac, Dennis Boutsikaris, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, and David Strathairn

Directed By: Tony Gilroy

Synopsis: When the actions of Jason Bourne spark a fire that threatens to burn down decades of research across a number of secret intelligence agencies, Eric Byer (Edward Norton), the man who built the programs, decides he must sacrifice one of them: Outcome. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), one of Outcome’s six agents, and research scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) go on the run when Byer targets them for termination. But Cross proves to be a far deadlier target than Byer realizes.

Domestic Box Office: $113.2 Million/ Worldwide: $276.1 Million

RT Score: 55%

My Thoughts: As someone who adored the first three Bourne films growing up (The Bourne Ultimatum, especially), it was all too curious when Universal Pictures moved forward with this sort of sequel/ spin-off to the celebrated action-thriller franchise. The Bourne Legacy didn’t star Matt Damon nor was directed by Paul Greengrass, but it centers on Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross, another Treadstone agent, finding out about this conspiracy. What I wanted out of this is an exciting sequel that can stand on its own. Instead, I found this disappointing as I left the theater wanting more. This was the complete opposite of what they presented in the past three movies: an engaging storyline with top-notch action tied perfectly. With director Tony Gilroy working with a script by him and his brother Dan, it’s more dialogue-heavy than expected and relies too much on a plot I had a hard time following since it was confusing. Renner does a great job with his performance, even when his character doesn’t hold a candle to Damon’s since he never has enough tension to make him a real threat. Regarding the supporting cast, Rachel Weisz makes for a good enough partner with Renner, but poor Edward Norton had nothing to work with besides looking at computer screens searching for the two. He only had one scene with Renner and it was a flashback, which the trailers mislead big time.

The movie also severely lacked action, which it wasn’t even thrilling and I thought it would be the selling point. In addition, a distributing sequence of a lab shooting was hard to watch, given the current events at the time. Still, I liked the climactic motorcycle chase through the streets of Manila that happens and quickly ended abruptly after three minutes.

The Bourne Legacy is inferior to the other entries in the spy series, where it’s the sibling everybody forgets about. Renner isn’t the problem, but it’s more on the unsatisfying plot not to keep the audiences’ attention and not enough action to carry it, bringing this out as nothing special. It’s the weakest in the series, though Jason Bourne is pretty close. 

Grade: C+

‘The Campaign’

Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, and Sarah Baker

Directed By: Jay Roach

Synopsis: When incumbent Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major gaffe, two wealthy CEOs decide to try to gain influence in their district by putting up a rival candidate. Their unlikely choice is a naive tourism director named Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). Aided by his family’s political connections and a cutthroat campaign manager, Marty soon becomes locked in a dead heat with Cam. As Election Day approaches, each man slings mud galore in a last-ditch effort to bury the other.

Domestic Box Office: $86.9 Million/ Worldwide: $104.9 Million

RT Score: 66%

My Thoughts: Never been one for politics, but I have always been one for comedies. The Campaign, starring the comedic styling of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, had the makings of a solid satire, but sadly, this proves both worlds didn’t match up for a whimper of a movie. That’s a bummer because Jay Roach put his stamp on making iconic movies (the Austin Powers trilogy, Meet the Parents), and this isn’t one of them. So for a political satire to not work in 2012 means something’s wrong with an R-rated comedy. Basically, the movie is about these two one-upping each other to get a seat in Congress in the ridiculous way you can have when it has two funny comedians. Unfortunately, if it was supposed to be dumb about how we always vote for total idiot politicians for yearly elections, it is a pretty spot-on description of most presidential or anything related. But The Campaign wasn’t something I couldn’t get into when it ended. Some scenes had moments of hilarity, but that’s just it when it wasn’t even funny, wasting this talent. You’ve seen Ferrell and Galifianakis in better work than here, and I thought Galifianakis’ performance was my favorite of the two. I felt this was the beginning of lesser quality live-action movies for Ferrell that come up short of expectations. The surprise performance I wasn’t expecting to be comedic was Dylan McDermott, as Galifianakis’s campaign manager because he’s not known for being in comedies, I don’t think. Nobody had this as one of the funniest comedies of the year, even if the only memorable part came from baby getting punched in the face or Green Day’s “99 Revolutions” being heard before the release of ¡Tré!.

Grade: D+

August 15: ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’

Cast: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Dianne Wiest, CJ Adams, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, David Morse, Odeya Rush, and Common

Directed By: Peter Hedges

Synopsis: Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) live in the town of Stanleyville, home of the Stanleyville Pencil Factory. Though happily married, Cindy and Jim long for a child; unfortunately, they are unable to conceive. They bury a box in their backyard, containing all their wishes for what they hope a child of theirs might be. When a boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) magically appears at their door, the Greens learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life’s greatest gifts.

Domestic Box Office: $51.8 Million/ Worldwide: $56 Million

RT Score: 36%

My Thoughts: I didn’t know how to feel about The Odd Life of Timothy Green when Disney released a trailer a whole year before its release. My first thought was,” What’s this crap?” But if there’s a good excuse for parents to tell their children about where babies come from, this would probably be a weird topic to bring up after watching this. Take what you know from Martian Child, sprinkle some of the Disney magic to create a mildly forgettable and charming family drama in The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Of course, you can look at this and not buy into this unbelievable story the parents are telling. Still, you honestly can’t understand why they’re handling the fact this kid grew out of their garden learning nothing, making questionably laughable choices. As the title character, C.J. Adams gives a genuinely good performance that relies on him being the cute kid feeling different from his peers and feeling well enough. Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton made for a nice couple who dropped into the sudden reality of becoming parents. Why didn’t they go with adoption in the first place? It’s the type of movie that’s very sentimental to a fault that doesn’t bring many surprises. Nothing about The Odd Life of Timothy Green is offensively bad, and it wasn’t the painful viewing I had in mind. Its wholesome nature will turn off many since it goes for that lighthearted affair that won’t touch millions of hearts. I guess the only relevance was this was the Nostalgia Critic’s comeback review.

Grade: C+

August 17: ‘The Expendables 2’

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Directed By: Simon West

Synopsis: Mercenary leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the Expendables team reunite when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) hires them for a seemingly easy job. But things go terribly wrong, compelling the mercenaries to seek revenge for a comrade’s murder. With the odds against them, Barney and his team are hell-bent on payback and cut a path of destruction through opposing forces, only to encounter an unexpected threat: six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium.

Domestic Box Office: $85 Million/ Worldwide: $314.9 Million

RT Score: 68%

My Thoughts: While 2010’s The Expendables drew people to high box office numbers because it brought together some of the most formidable action stars then and now, it was a movie with a waste of opportunity over a mediocre story. Two years later, we got a sequel that delivered the year’s ultimate guilty pleasure. The Expendables 2 was more what hardcore action fans wanted than what it offered, making grown men cheer for two hours. I think having Simon West of Con Air fame to direct instead of Stallone made it an entertaining ride that didn’t need us to pick apart the self-aware story when all is there is a cheese fest of guns, explosions, and men killing bad guys in a serviceable ’80s throwback. Does the plot matter? Why would it since it’s not competing in Best Picture? I knew going in was going to be dumb, and it was in a fashion that fits with these movies that bring more nostalgia to those who grew up with older action movies.

The action kicks ass and uses them sparingly, more of them here than the first, thankfully. Was the acting incredible? No. However, I knew what was coming from Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Crews and the rest back together again. This also had the “Muscles from Brussels” himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme as the best villain in the series since he was WAY better than that crappy villain so bland I can’t remember his motives. And yes, seeing Chuck Norris in his only good movie had some purpose and this took what people perceived about him and made it worked. Even Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger had more to do, not just have one scene. Although the plot isn’t that memorable to care about, the acting wasn’t meant to be the best, and some of the one-liners that are pretty bad that even for a movie like that, I wasn’t looking to love this, but it was what I wanted it to be. If you weren’t a fan of first on, The Expendables 2 is a vast improvement that’s better directed and full-out fun for fans of these action stars and today and yesterday.

Grade: B


Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, and Elaine Stritch

Directed By: Sam Fell and Chris Butler

Synopsis: Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead — and he often prefers their company to that of the living. Norman receives word from his strange Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) that a centuries-old witch’s curse on their town is real and about to come true — and that only Norman can stop it. When zombies rise from their graves, Norman must summon all his courage and compassion and push his paranormal abilities to the limit to save his fellow townspeople.

Domestic Box Office: $56 Million/ Worldwide: $107.1 Million

RT Score: 89%

My Thoughts: ParaNorman is Focus Features and Laika’s much-anticipated follow-up to the critical success of Coraline four years later. And I remembered looking at the trailers, thinking it could be better than the other animated movies of the year, and for being the last movie of the summer for me, I was surprised by how great it was. This is a family horror film for the kids, but it has some images that will scare them. When I re-watched this, this was the closest to bring aimed towards more adults and teenagers, reminding me of The Goonies or a throwback to ’80s horror. Everything about the stop-motion animation is excellent at how the creators made these characters with all the time that don’t go unnoticed in the finished product. The pairing with the 3D also helped. Kodi-Smith McPhee was the perfect actor to voice Norman, who is like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense but isn’t afraid of using his powers to see and talk to ghosts. He’s a character you don’t want to be an outcast and believe he can save his town. 

The rest of the voice cast includes Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Tucker Albrizzi, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and they were also great. The humor surprised me not only by having some hard laughs, but there are some stuff adults will get that children wouldn’t understand until years later. The story never came across as groundbreaking, but it didn’t need to. Some have complained about the pacing and how it’s pretty slow; I didn’t feel that until the last 15 minutes. Besides that, I thought it was paced well for 92 minutes. Both funny and sometimes frightening for its young audience. ParaNorman‘s unique animation style and entertaining blend of horror/comedy made it a huge surprise. It’s probably my favorite from Laika (pretty close to Kubo and the Two Strings). Nobody talks about this anymore, and it’s a good watch around Halloween time. I love this film more than most, and it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature (should’ve won over Brave).

Grade: A-


Cast: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Cee Lo Green, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Tamela Mann, and Omari Hardwick

Directed By: Salim Akil

Synopsis: In 1968, girl groups and the Motown sound are sweeping the nation. Despite their mother’s (Whitney Houston) misgivings, talented sisters Delores (Tika Sumpter), Sister (Carmen Ejogo) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) are taking Detroit by storm, and their dreams are even bigger. Their ambitious manager (Derek Luke) will do whatever it takes to make the big time, even if it means exploiting the sisters — and his love for Sparkle — for the foundation of a new musical empire.

Domestic Box Office: $24.3 Million/ Worldwide: $24.6 Million

RT Score: 56%

My Thoughts: I won’t be shocked if Sparkle doesn’t ring any bells. Reviews for the remake of the original from 1971 were mixed, but few people showed up. My mom saw it opening weekend and didn’t like it. I’ve perfectly described this as a 99-cent version of Dreamgirls, but take away the memorable music of the Motown scene (I didn’t know until now R. Kelly helped write a few songs. Gross.) or any amount of respect towards the characters. Seriously, Sparkle is filled with cliches that every musical goes through (drugs, the breakup (?)) that are really dramatic and played out. There’s very little that amazed me besides remembering there’s more of a focus on Carmen Ejogo’s Sister than Jordin Sparks’ titular character. The saving grace from keeping this from being utterly bad was Whitney Houston’s performance as their mother, who doesn’t want her daughters to follow the path of disappointment in their singing career. This was sadly her final film performance after her death that same year, but she made me forget she was a wonderful actress to carry this mediocre script. A scene of her singing a song in a church made me miss hearing her amazing voice. I even liked Sparks as a singer, but her performance essentially gets overshadowed when she takes a backseat to the melodramatic Sister storyline never worthy of being interested in. But, really, the acting can’t lift up a tedious time.

Grade: C-

August 22: ‘Hit and Run’

Cast: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Rosenbaum, Joy Bryant, Ryan Hansen, and Beau Bridges

Directed By: Dax Shepard, with David Palmer

Synopsis: Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), a nice guy with a shady past as a getaway driver, breaks out of the witness protection program in a backwater California town to drive his girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell), to Los Angeles for an important job interview. The pair’s road trip takes an awkward and dangerous turn when they find that an inept federal agent (Tom Arnold) and the mobster (Bradley Cooper) he testified against are both trying to hunt them down.

Domestic Box Office: $13.7 Million/ Worldwide: $16.8 Million

RT Score: 48%

My Thoughts: Someone at a studio really thought that giving a go on a Dax Shepard co-directed movie (with David Palmer after Brother’s Justice) was a bright idea. Sure? I didn’t think Hit and Run looked good whatsoever from the awful marketing when it just made out to be a generic, unfunny chase movie. Shepard has always been one of those actors I can’t stand; you can say I hate him. I heard he had a good run on TV’s Parenthood, but nothing is more unconfident when he’s stars, wrote, and co-directed this. Hit and Run has no gas in the tank in an attempt to be superb. Shepard and Palmer didn’t have a decent job handling the comedy or the action to the point that I almost turned it off. Ten years later, I didn’t mind the power couple of him and Kristen Bell, which later became rather annoying. To their credit, they played off each other while on this crazy trip from point A to B, risking his life that you only wished was entertaining. I’m still questioning why a dread-locked Bradley Cooper was roped into being the villain; same with Tom Arnold or Michael Rosenblum. It’s never funny when all the attempts at humor went so meanspirited. The movie also grinds to a halt to have a forced conversation that goes nowhere after Shepard’s character, Charlie, stupidly drops the “F” word on some guy as a substitute for “lame.” It bothers me when you don’t root for anybody, especially Charlie. Not even the car chases added much flavor to an already lousy script. Watching Hit and Run made me hate the actor even more, but that didn’t stop him from directing a more terrible comedy five years later (CHiPs).

Grade: D+

August 24: ‘Premium Rush’

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, and Jamie Chung

Directed By: David Koepp

Synopsis: For bike messenger Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), dodging speeding cars, evading crazy cabdrivers, and blowing by millions of cranky pedestrians is all in a day’s work. Wilee is one of the best in a dangerous job, and his bike of choice is a Fixie, a lightweight, single-gear unit without brakes. Though Wilee knows that one day he may end up as a smear on the pavement — he is unprepared for what happens after his last run of the day turns into a life-or-death chase through Manhattan.

Domestic Box Office: $20.2 Million/ Worldwide: $31.08 Million

RT Score: 74%

My Thoughts: Have I seen the Kevin Bacon flick Quicksilver? Nope. But I have seen the Joseph Gordon-Levitt- led vehicle Premium Rush, which I wouldn’t expect a movie about this underground world of bike messengers for an hour and a half to be thrilling with a Cellular vibe attached. But, honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with David Koepp’s film. But then I gave it another chance to be open-minded, and I’m still in the minority in saying this wasn’t that good and wasn’t as fun as I wanted. The first 30 minutes hooked me right away in exploring Gordon-Levitt’s Wiley’s quick on his feet job, how he loves riding his bike whatever it goes with, never breaking the pedals. After that, it quickly becomes a clunky cat-and-mouse chase through the streets of New York City. And this shows why Koepp isn’t as strong as a writer as a director when doing both.

The reason everybody is after this envelope never creates that much tension to follow through, and it makes the dialogue and the non-linear time frame seem ridiculous at times. Nevertheless, he captured the bike sequences with a good eye; as you can see it’s all practical. I’ve always been a Gordon-Levitt fan since day one, and he gives an excellent performance as Wiley. He actually got in an accident with a taxi during filming, requiring 31 stitches. In contrast, Michael Shannon is in a completely different movie because he plays a dirty cartoony cop trying to catch Gordon-Levitt. Premium Rush adds some entertainment for inevitable bike chases to please a few, but not everything keeps you interested unless you want to fall off the wheels in this formulaic thriller. 2012 proved this was his biggest year, though this is the only one I didn’t like.

Grade: C

August 29: ‘Lawless’

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Dane DeHaan, and Guy Pearce

Directed By: John Hillcoat

Synopsis: In 1931, the Bondurant brothers of Franklin County, Va., run a multipurpose backwoods establishment that hides their true business, bootlegging. Middle brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) is the brain of the operation; older Howard (Jason Clarke) is the brawn, and younger Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the lookout. Though the local police have taken bribes and left the brothers alone, a violent war erupts when a sadistic lawman (Guy Pearce) from Chicago arrives and tries to shut down the Bondurants operation.

Domestic Box Office: $37.4 Million/ Worldwide: $55.4 Million

RT Score: 66%

My Thoughts: Having not seen director John Hillcoat’s past efforts in The Proposition and The Road, respectively, I had no real anticipation regarding the lead-up to this 2012 crime drama. I knew it had a nice-looking cast and involved brothers selling bootlegged moonshine illegally. But, for all I know, this could’ve been a slow watching with not a lot of aspects to make it memorable. Fortunately, Lawless is a slick and grim-looking crime thriller perfectly set in the prohibition era and directed flawlessly by Hillcoat’s style. It gets down to being violent and intense. This also goes without saying this film delivers thanks to this astonishing cast, including Shia LaBeouf in one of his better performances at the time (showing he can act in a CGI-less setting) and Jessica Chastain. In addition, Tom Hardy gave the second performance of that year as a character difficult to understand what he’s saying while being a man with few words. I wasn’t prepared to add the underrated Guy Pierce to a list of the year’s best villains as Special Agent Rakes due to how crazy he becomes when trying to destroy the brothers’ business. Lawless never gets mistakes for being an action movie when it’s a to-the-point crime through and through and a not-too-slow pace if someone might be interested in this movie that’s in the realm of classic gangster films. While it never stood the time in being considered a top-notch Oscar contender, a few flaws still make this a surprise for me.

Grade: B

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