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The Hard Word (2003)
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Review Date: June 08, 2003
Director: Scott Roberts
Writer: Scott Roberts
Producers: Al Clark
Actors:
Guy Pearce as Dale
Rachel Griffiths as Carol
Robert Taylor as Frank
Plot:
Three bank-robbing brothers are sprung from jail in order to pull another job, but are soon placed right back in detention, while their crooked attorney plans another heist for them. Before long, they are back out of the pokey and hitting the Melbourne Cup for one of their biggest heists, which for the first time ever, includes a couple of new members to their team. Who will wind up with all the dough and the chicks? Aussie rules!!
Critique:
A decent Australian crime flick featuring convincing chemistry among the three leads, intriguing twists and turns in its second half, but a pretty slow and meandering start, a number of characters who are introduced into the story but then dumped at the drop of a hat and a somewhat anticlimactic ending. I actually quite loved the final slow-motion shot in this movie, but the last 10 minutes or so felt like a letdown. The film also did a pretty solid job of building up the three lead brother characters, but what the hell was the story with their chickie counterparts? Two of them were given some play, but then dropped like rocks while the third, Rachel Griffiths, didn't really seem to have much to her. She was basically just a bitch, right? I don't know. Some time was also spent trying to develop a relationship between Pearce and Griffiths, but either the writing wasn't good enough or I just didn't understand why these two felt anything toward one another. Or was it just "true love" and I missed it? Having said that, the bottom line with this film is "crime" anyway, and thankfully for us, the plotline does offer something unique, with the first half concentrating more on the brothers' jail-time and an "intro" heist, while the second half takes the reigns off the more introverted stuff and dives headlong into one very slick heist job, with ultimately turns into a kickass chase, a handful of violence, backstabbings, twists, turns and a pretty heated pace. I really got into this end of the film and wondered why the first half hadn't moved as swiftly, or at the very least, developed more of its plot points instead of going over same ones over and over again.

The film's conclusion left something to be desired as well. A couple of small points didn't seem to make sense, and I was particularly mystified about one specific piece of evidence "disappearing" and not being fully explained (or maybe I missed that too) For me, some of the Australian jargon also caused a few communication issues, but thankfully the more "localized" stuff was subtitled. In terms of performances, once again, Guy Pearce ruled the day with his pissed off sneer, his greasy hair and his fuck-you stare. This guy is an actor among men and he commanded both the crew and the screen whenever he was on. I wished that the script had been loaded with a few better one-liners though, or more circumstantial humor. Pearce did have one particularly great retort to his apparently cheating sweetheart though-as she professed her love for him, he replied: "I'll try to remember that when I think about your mouth wrapped around that other guy's cock". Touche! The two brothers also played their parts well, while the sleazy lawyer, the spitting image of a young Harrison Ford incidentally, played his adequately, but was a little too one-dimensional. One thing I don't really get is this film's comparison to both Tarantino and Ritchie's crime movies, since it didn't really feature all that much "style", memorable dialogue or a fun soundtrack. Sure, some of the violence was a little over-the-top (loved the Lava-lamp kill), but nothing that specifically blew my Americanized nuts off. All in all, an okay crime flick featuring a great performance by Pearce, some neat twists and turns in its second half and one cool-ass heist.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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