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The story of bootlegging brothers

Richard Foreman Jr./The Weinstein Company via AP

Busy backwoods doings and a drawling tone are alternately perfect complements and slightly at odds in “Lawless” (2012), the fictionalized true story of bootlegging brothers in Prohibition-era rural Virginia. Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke are the Bondurants, a moonshine-running clan whose comfortable cornpone existence is disrupted by the arrival of corrupt “lawman” Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce, with plucked eyebrows to project citified dandy). But their escalating conflict is only part of the story. Just as prominent is the tension between LaBeouf’s Jack, a would-be player limited by his timorous streak, and Hardy’s Forrest, who’s so quietly intimidating, the locals have him figured for “invincible.” Then there’s the unspoken attraction between Forrest and sexy, damaged Maggie (Jessica Chastain); Jack’s preening pursuit of a minister’s daughter (Mia Wasikowska); and, for good measure, Jack’s awe of a gangster on the lam (Gary Oldman, swell in a cameo). It’s a lot going on all at once. And that’s where the atmosphere captured by director John Hillcoat gets tricky: The pace is a bit countrified, the focus a bit meandering, to supply all the rat-a-tat urgency and momentum the climax demands. Extras: Featurettes spend plenty of time with author Matt Bondurant, Jack’s grandson, whose historical novel “The Wettest County in the World” was adapted for the screenplay. You’ll wish for more from screenwriter (and rocker) Nick Cave, who previously plied his sideline trade on Hillcoat’s western “The Proposition.” (Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)

SCI-FI/COMEDY

MEN IN BLACK 3 (2012)

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For a sequel that no one was clamoring for — and one that faced well-publicized script problems to boot — this new “MiB” entry turns out to be fairly entertaining. Here, agents Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones police space and time, as Smith’s J jumps back to 1969 to foil a plot by alien baddie Jemaine Clement. Getting to see Josh Brolin’s hilariously deadpan impression of a young Jones is like the bonus payoff we never knew we’d be getting from “No Country for Old Men.” Extras: Featurettes highlight the effects; Jones leaves the hyping (surprise!) to Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld. (Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99; 3-D, $55.99; available Friday)

ACTION

THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012)

Sylvester Stallone and his mercenary crew are dispatched to Eastern Europe on a safecracking job, but when the group is ambushed by Jean-Claude Van Damme, they’re soon ordering up a combo meal of plutonium recovery and revenge. There’s enough chunky bloodshed to equal the first installment’s grungy thrills, but what’s also the same is the disappointing lack of cleverness. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris. Extras: The gang’s not quite all here for a featurette (expendable?), but there’s also an ’80s action-genre retrospective and a segment on real-life paramilitary types to make up for it. (Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; available now)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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