The Hard Word

"Good"

The Hard Word Review


The snappy caper: A planned-to-a-T, multi-million dollar racetrack robbery wrought with the danger of a double-cross.

The snappy cast: A sharp cadre of Aussies led by Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths (two of that country's finest acting exports) as a magnetically smug life-long greaseball and his playing-both-sides-against-her-own-middle tart of a disloyal wife.

The practical upshot: "The Hard Word" is a wily, performance-driven heist-gone-wrong picture with shrewd underworld savvy reminiscent of "Snatch" without the smug self-awareness.

From his first moment on screen Pearce is, well, piercing as Dale Twentyman, "the smart one" of three brothers freshly sprung from prison and back at the trade for which they have a perfect track record: "12 jobs, no slip-ups, no body hurt."

First seen through a prison library window, watching with amused contempt as a bunch of thugs play full-contact basketball in the yard, Pearce looks nothing like the handsome (if sometimes gritty), leading-man roles he's known for in the US ("L.A. Confidential," "Memento," "The Time Machine"). His eyes are darty, smirking and sunken in sockets darkened by sleeplessness. His hair is uncut and slicked back. He has a pronounced underbite with a jutting chin, clenched with a charismatic conceit and covered by a trimmed but scruffy beard.

Dale is a complete character from cool demeanor to dirty fingertips as he leads his younger brothers -- ingenuous dreamer Mal and bellicose ruffian Shane (played with equal theatrical submersion by Damien Richardson and Joel Edgerton) -- on a quickie armored car robbery that gets the clan double-crossed and on wanted posters.

"I've a got a million bucks I can't get my hands on and a lawyer who's f**king my wife," Dale complains matter-of-factly after realizing he's been set up.

But that pinstriped shark with a dirty-money lifestyle and news-anchor hair (Robert Taylor) offers a way out in the form of One Last Big Heist to finance their escape from justice: They'll hit the bookies with their bags full of cash at the end of the Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse race in Australia.

Writer ("K2") and first-time director Scott Roberts infuses "The Hard Word" with a stimulating vigor of post-modern noir elements and light-hearted dark humor as the racetrack heist goes awry. The Twentyman boys are forced by their partner to bring in a fourth thief -- a dyslexic brute called Tarzan (Dorian Nikono) whose volatile temper turns the job into a bloodbath.

The story doesn't closely adhere to the heist movie template, sending the brothers on a strange getaway road trip with an unsuspecting (and very tipsy) spectator from the racetrack (Kate Atkinson) -- a girl that sensitive Mal falls for on first sight, only to be disappointed in a simple, un-movie-like twist of fate. Dale's wife keeps coming into play as well since they can't resist each other's animal sex drive, even though he wouldn't trust her any further than he could toss her.

Decked out in feathered hair, snakeskin miniskirts and glossy lip-liner, and daintily snorting dabs of cocaine from her manicured fake fingernails, Griffiths (best known Stateside for HBO's "Six Feet Under" and wifely roles in "The Rookie" and "Blow") lends sexy, slutty, low-class relish to the role that adds immeasurably to the picture's persimmon personality.

Although occasionally derailed by awkwardly untenable plot elements (what's with the prison shrink who begins mothering Shane to the degree of actually breast-feeding him?), "The Hard Word" is absolutely entertaining in its ironic criminal wit and unscrupulous charm.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th June 2003

Box Office USA: $0.4M

Distributed by: Lions Gate Distribution

Production compaines: Australian Film Finance Corporation, Wildheart Films, Alibi Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Dale, as Frank, as Carol, as Shane, as Mal, as Jane, as Pamela, as Kelly, as O'Riordan, as Paul, Dorian Nkono as Tarzan, Torquil Neilson as Mick, Stephen Whittaker as Rawson, Don Bridges as Doug, Doug Bowles as Bill, Greg Fleet as Tony

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.