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The Hard Word Review

By Shawn McKenzie 07/04/2003

How many con/heist films are we going to have this year?  Following the more superior Confidence and The Italian Job, The Hard Word is certainly the lamest entry so far, and this is coming from someone who likes heist films.

 

Australian Brothers Dale (Guy Pearce), Mal (Damien Richardson), and Shane Twentyman (Joel Edgerton) are criminals who are constantly in prison for armed robbery.  They want to pull that one last job so they can retire.  After their latest release, they pull another job right away, but are soon picked up by detectives Mick Kelly (Vince Colosimo) and Jack OíRiordan (Paul Sonkkila), a couple of corrupt cops.  They take the brothers back to prison as part of a bigger heist plan in Melbourne they have cooked up with the brothersí shady lawyer, Frank Malone (Robert Taylor.)  Once the brothers learn of the plan, they are all is hesitant at first.  Dale isnít sure he can trust Frank and suspects the attorney is having an affair with his wife, Carol (Rachel Griffiths.)  Mal is having fun with his cooking skills and cooking for the rest of the prisoners.  Shane is falling in love with the prison counselor, Jane (Rhondda Findleton.)  They eventually agree to the heist, because they want to get out of the robbery business and take advantage of Malís culinary/butchery skills by opening a restaurant (though itís Malís blood sausage prepared for Shaneís birthday that lands him in the hospital with food poisoning, delaying the start of the heist.)  They only have one requirementÖno one gets hurt.  Frank has brought in two new partners to the team, Paul (Kym Gyngell) and the slightly psychotic Tarzan (Dorian Nkono.)  The brothers donít want to work with other people, but after Frankís insistence that they will need Paul and Tarzan for a job of this magnitude, they reluctantly agree to working with them.  When the heist goes horribly wrong, they escape with the money and avoid getting killed.  They steal the car of a woman named Pamela (Kate Atkinson), who joins the brothers for awhile during their escape (and starts falling for Mal.)  Frank had intended to bump off the brothers and run off with Carol anyway, so he spends the rest of the movie chasing them.

 

Itís funny when some critics long to hear the native accents of famous actors.  In the case of Pearce and Griffiths, I could have lived without the Australian accent.  The recent Scottish film Sweet Sixteen was kind enough to give us subtitles because they were aware that the accent was so thick that we would need them.  I wish they had given us subtitles in this one as well, because this movie outdid Crocodile Dundee with the Australian accent.

 

Language confusion aside, I just wasnít too crazy about the film.  There were so many pointless parts in it that it drove me crazy.  Shaneís romance with Jane went absolutely nowhere.  There was over-the-top graphic violence that wasnít needed (some murders looked like they were cut from a horror movie, including one involving a lava lamp.)  The ďtwistĒ in the end was neither surprising nor satisfying.

Iím kind of disappointed that I didnít like The Hard Word.  Like I said before, Iím a fan of heist films, and I like Pearce and Griffiths (when they are speaking English.)  This is the directorial debut of Scott Roberts, the co-writer of the screenplay for the mountain-climbing 1991 movie K2.  This isnít a good start for him.  Youíll have to decide for yourselves of course, but this is one caper I donít want to be involved in.

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