John HIllcoat’s thriller, from a messy script by Nick Cave, charts the exploits of a family of Virginian bootleggers during Prohibition as their operation comes under threat from corrupt officials. Suffering from a major identity crisis, the uneven picture lurches between violent, gritty crime drama, inappropriate comedy and romanticised outlaw fantasy with such ungainliness it’s difficult to credit this as a the work of the team of filmmakers behind the masterful The Proposition.
Shia LeBeouf does well as the youngest of the clan, as does middle brother Jason Clarke, but Tom Hardy seems to have regressed to that habit of supplanting feral growls for emoting from his telly years. He reaches self-parody here as the near-indestructible Forrest. With Gary Oldman briefly on hand to add poise and steel as a rival gangster, and Guy Pearce chewing scenery as pantomime rozzer villain Rakes, the incompatible performances mirror the antagonistic tones. Throw in some eye-rollingly hackneyed imagery for good measure and you’ve got a bit of a stinker.