NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by L
The Bondurant Brothers are in a pig sty on their farm and the youngest, Jack, has a loaded rifle to kill a pig for dinner. His older brothers, Forrest and Howard, encourage Jack to pull the trigger but he can’t. Forrest takes out a pistol and shoots the pig instead.
The Bondurant Brothers are a bit of a local legend in Franklin County, Virginia. The oldest brother, Howard (Jason Clarke), went to war and was the sole survivor of a beach landing where the rest of his platoon drowned. Forrest (Tom Hardy) contracted the flu with his parents but was the only one who threw it off leaving the Brothers alone. But their brushes with death have left the locals with the impression that they just can’t be killed.
Years later, Prohibition is in full swing and the Bondurant Brothers are some of the premier bootleggers in Franklin. The brothers sell to everyone in their county, including the police. They deliver to several venues, including an African American wake.
Forrest and Howard tell Jack (Shia LeBeouf) to stay in the car while they go into the wake to sell their wares. Jack disobeys and squats down near a window to look in on the festivities going on in the basement. A group of homeless muggers surround him, and one puts a knife to his throat demanding money. Forrest appears and brutally beats the mugger with a pair of brass knuckles and the brothers leave him to choke on his own blood.
Jack is moving some boxes into the family car when two car careen through the town. Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman), a gangster, emerges from a car with a tommy gun and kills the driver of the other car, forcing the car into a nearby store. The residents of the town scatter as Banner walks through but for the briefest of moments, he makes eye contact with Jack and winks. Once Banner is gone, Jack jumps over the fence he hid behind to grab one of Banner’s shell casings before running off.
Forrest returns to the Bondurant Bar where a young woman, Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain), is waiting. Maggie has come from Chicago and wants a job cleaning up at the bar. Forrest, uncomfortable talk to women, asks when she’s come out to the country. Maggie replies that she simply needed a quieter life.
Cricket (Dane Dehaan) is busy working on his distillation equipment when Jack arrives with the shell casing so that Cricket can add it to his collection. Cricket’s latest distillation piping turns the alcohol a disgusting yellow color leaving the boys to wonder if it’s from the rust or the lead. A batch of the alcohol is delivered to the Bondurants and Forrest puts them in the moonshine shed, locking it with a key around his neck.
A few days later, the Bondurant Bar is paid a visit by the police. Forrest exits the bar while Maggie stands off to the side watching as the police introduce the new Mayor, Mason Wardell, and his lapdog, Special Agent Rakes (Guy Pearce). Rakes demands a cut of Forrest’s profits, but Forrest makes it clear that if Rakes comes around his place again, he’ll put a cleaver in Rakes’ head. Rakes laughs at the threat, staring intently at Maggie before leaving.
The Bondurants meet with other bootleggers outside of Franklin. While the others have considered taking the offer, Forrest puts his foot down because he is unwilling to bend the knee to an outsider.
Jack takes a jar of moonshine and chugs it while on the way to the local church. He arrives awkwardly in the middle of the service, and his attention is immediately drawn to the preacher’s daughter, Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska). The preacher beckons Jack forward, and the service continues with the ceremonial washing of the feet. As Bertha washes Jack’s feet, he gets ill and bolts out of the church forgetting one of his shoes and puking all over the garden.
Rakes pays Cricket a visit in his house with several other cops demanding money and the distillation equipment. Before he can harm Cricket, Jack arrives and tells Rakes he’s searching the wrong place. Realizing that Jack is a Bondurant, he begins to mercilessly strike Jack in the face with his shotgun. Coughing up blood and begging for a reprieve, Jack touches Rakes’ pants, which only makes Rakes angrier. He drives the butt of his shotgun into Jack’s temple, knocking him out.
Jack pours salt into salt shakers at the bar, his face a mess. Forrest returns from the town with a bag and tells Jack that he’s never to let that happen again. Before walking off, he drops the content of the bag on the bar: the shoe Jack left at the church. Humiliated, Jack leaves the bar.
Maggie returns home from the bar one night to discover that her room is next to Rakes. Rakes identifies her as a dancer who used to dance in Chicago. When he blocks her door, she tells him to leave, but Rakes assures her that she has nothing to worry about: He never sips from a greasy cup.
Time passes. While in town one day, Jack approaches Bertha in her father’s car while she is drinking a soda. He asks her to come out with him, but Bertha tells him that her father would never approve since the Bondurant boys were “the worst thing to ever happen to Franklin.” But she’s flirting with Jack, so he doesn’t give up hope leaving quickly when he sees the Preacher coming out of the supply store.
Forrest has several men from Chicago coming in to buy moonshine and asks Howard to help him that night. That night, as it starts snowing, Howard goes off and cavorts with a friend and a whore, missing the deadline. In the bar, the two men cause trouble for Maggie. When they draw a gun, she stabs one of the men through the hand. Cricket witnesses what happened and Forrest proceeds to beat the two men unconscious.
After a few hours, Forrest closes the bar and apologizes to Maggie for what happened with the men back there. She smiles and holds his hand before getting into her car to drive home. Forrest notices that someone opened the engine block of his car, so he goes to fix it. As he closes the hood, the two men he beat jump him. His arms pinned by one, Forrest struggles while the other man slashes Forrest’s throat. He collapses to the ground, blood gushing through his hands.
Maggie makes it half way to town before the weather gets too rough to drive. She returns to the bar, walking past Forrest bleeding out on the ground. When she enters the bar, the two men follow and rape her.
The next morning, Jack and Howard pay Forrest a visit in the hospital. Convinced he dragged himself to the hospital himself, the brothers make anxious jokes. Forrest accusingly tells Howard that “he should have been there” and passes out. Howard goes to the distillation set up with Jack and Jack angrily blames Howard for Forrest’s injuries. Howard punches Jack in the face, and Jack returns to the hospital to steal the key to Forrest’s moonshine shed.
Jack grabs Cricket and they load up the car to drive out and meet Cricket’s contacts in the city. They drive out of Franklin with their stash, but Cricket forgot to fill the car with gas. Stranded on the road, the boys end up pouring their own alcohol into the gasoline tank while the cops approach the corner of the road. Just as the cops appear, the engine kicks to life and the boys drive off.
When the boys arrive, they find Cricket’s contacts have a much more sinister plan in mind. They throw the boys into a grave and plan on keeping the moonshine for free. When Floyd Banner sees them, and Jack identifies himself, Banner spares them.
Maggie pays Forrest a visit in the hospital and tells him that she’s leaving. She doesn’t tell him why but Forrest instead tells her to move in with the Brothers. He gives her the spare bedroom above the bar and tells her that the safest place for her now is by their side. She agrees to stay but doesn’t mention the rape.
Knowing the ferocious reputation of the elder Bondurant Brothers, Banner agrees to pay 5 dollars a jar for the moonshine. Banner tells Jack that what happened to Forrest was done by two men who used to work for him. He gives Jack their address as a “gift” to assure the Bondurants that he had nothing to do with the attack. When the boys leave with their money, Banner takes his lieutenant out and hits him across the skull with a shovel for almost causing a blood feud.
Jack returns with the money but Forrest is not impressed. Jack shows him the address and tells him that Rakes rewarded the men for their actions by taking them into his employ. Despite his misgivings, Forrest takes Banner’s gift and sends Jack on his way. Using his new money, he buys new clothes, a camera and a new car. He visits Bertha and takes a photograph of her with the camera and then she takes a photograph of him. They go for a walk and hold hands while looking out at a lake.
When Jack arrives at the bar that evening, the only person there is Maggie. Realizing that his brothers have gone after Forrest’s attackers, he drives to the address Banner gave him. Howard opens the door exposing walls soaked with blood. Forrest, covered in blood, holds a straight razor while the man left alive shouts muffled cries of despair. Howard hands Jack a brown bag with the other man’s testicles in it and tells Jack that he wouldn’t have had the stomach for what he and Forrest did. Jack takes the bag, wraps it in pink tissue paper and drops it on the threshold of Rakes’ room.
Rakes responds to the gift by going out and catching any bootleggers who are not paying their share. He pours burning tar over one man and feathers him before throwing him on the porch of the Bondurant Bar. The Bondurants continue their operation, increasing its scope and hiding the distillation center in the woods. Banner continues paying top dollar for the moonshine, and the Brothers live well.
One night, Forrest passes by Maggie’s room and notices the door ajar. He steps closer and looks at her back, illuminated by the moonlight. She’s awake and can hear him at the door and closes her eyes in frustration when he retreats to his room. Unwilling to wait any longer, she takes off her clothes and goes into his room much to Forrest’s surprise. The two have sex and in the morning, wake up together happily.
Jack arrives at Bertha’s house in a brand new car and asks her to accompany him on a drive. While driving, he gives her a gift: A yellow dress adorned with strawberry patterns. She tells him that her father would never allow her to wear such a dress so Jack tells her that she can wear it now, while she’s with him. She changes and Jack desperately fights the urge to watch. When she’s done, they leave the car, and Jack takes her through the woods towards the distillation center. Unbeknownst to him, Rakes is not far behind with a posse of officers ready to swoop in and destroy the distillation center.
Howard watches from the roof as Jack and Bertha approach, shaking his head at Jack’s stupidity. Jack introduces Bertha to Cricket as Cricket finishes up some work on the machinery. Before they can tour the plant, Howard begins howling at the top of his lungs: Rakes and his men are coming. Jack grabs Bertha and tells Cricket to get her back to the car. Jack slides around the back of the plant to recover a shotgun as Rakes and a deputy come through the plant. Howard jumps down and knocks the deputy aside and Jack charges while Rakes is knocked to the ground, placing his shotgun against Rakes’ temple.
Rakes tells Jack that he doesn’t have the stomach to kill. Jack steps on Rakes’ face and wipes shit across it, calling him a “god damn Nance.” Jack and Howard run as the remaining deputies swarm the facility, bringing back a captured Cricket and Bertha. While the others pose for photos of the busted facility with Mason Wardell, Rakes takes Cricket into the woods to complain about Jack implying that he’s gay. He then proceeds to violently break Cricket’s neck.
Howard returns to the bar with news of Cricket’s death. Furthermore, Rakes has sealed the only bridge out of Franklin: no one is coming in or out of Franklin. A police officer visits off duty to tell them that Cricket’s death was not their fault and was beyond forgiving. Jack tells him to leave and returns to Cricket’s garage. Enraged, he grabs a shotgun and takes Cricket’s car to the bridge. Jack speeds by the other bootleggers who decide to arm up and follow him.
Forrest and Howard realize what Jack is going to do and prepare to follow. Maggie stops Forrest and tells him that if he goes out there, he won’t be coming back since she won’t be able to drag him into a car and drive him to the doctor if it happens again. Forrest is surprised by this: he really thought he walked to the hospital. He realizes that Maggie was there when his attackers were and that she was raped by Rakes men. He leaves for the bridge.
Jack arrives at the bridge, gun drawn screaming for Rakes to come out. Rakes emerges from the darkness of the bridge, pistol drawn, and shoots Jack in the gut. Jack collapses, the gun falling out of his hand as the officers watch Rakes become more and more unhinged. Forrest, Howard and the others arrive and draw their guns, but Rakes simply responds by shoot Forrest through the shoulder as he tries to help Jack and killing the Bondurant’s driver.
The other bootleggers level their weapons at the police as Forrest struggles to stand. He marches forward, and Rakes puts two more bullets in Forrest’s chest. As Forrest collapses, Rakes turns his attentions back to Jack. Before he can shoot, one of the police officers shoots Rakes in the leg to save Jack’s life. Rakes shoots an officer in the head and makes his away across the bridge, limping horribly.
Seeing Forrest motionless on the ground, Jack reaches for Forrest’s gun and limps after Rakes. In the darkness of the bridge, Rakes turns around and raises his gun at Jack’s silhouette but Jack fires twice hitting Rakes right through the chest. Before he can fall to the ground, Howard appears out of the darkness with a large knife and sodomizes Rakes with the blade jamming it up roughly until he cuts all the way up to Rakes’ back. Rakes stumbles out onto the other end of the bridge where he crumples to the ground: dead.
A few years later, Prohibition ends. Howard marries a good woman, taking everyone by surprise and having a small brood of children. Jack married Bertha and had a few of his own while Forrest survived the gunshot wounds and married Maggie. After a nice family dinner, the ladies go to bed while Howard teases Forrest about his “little dance” and asks if they can see it. Forrest tells them to go fuck themselves and stumbles off into the woods drunk. He stands on some ice and dances before the ice collapses. He climbs out and runs home, but in the end, he died of bad luck and pneumonia.
The last scene is Jack with his two kids running out of the house the next morning in the snow.