I no longer fear death for I have seen THE HARD WORD and no pain of giving up the ghost, no torment in damnation can compare to this excruciating mess that hits the silver screen with the sickening thud of ineptitude. Writer/ director Scott Roberts seems to have wanted to make a taut thriller that is also a quirky comedy. Alas, it fails to find footing in either genre. What we are left with is dumb people in a dumber plot in a film that seems to go on forever.
The people are three convict brothers, the cool one (Guy Pearce), the cuddly one (Joel Edgerton), and the cute one (Damian Richardson). For reasons known only God and the writer, they continue to pull heists for a shady lawyer who inevitably sells them out and send them back to prison. He also fornicates freely with the oldest brothers wife, which is common knowledge and yet, said brother continues to heist the cash, go to jail, and imagine how his wife and the lawyer are passing the time.
It wants to be Guy Ritchie, pre-Madonna. It wants to be Quentin Tarantino, back when Quentin was worth paying attention to. It fails miserably, not coming up to the standard of quality set by Russ Myers, though there is a similar mammary fixation in the person of the youngest brother that manifests in Oedipal ways that are not so much disturbing as silly. The dialogue has the aching banality of would-be wit, the pacing the kinetic energy of stasis, and the plot twists and surprises are anything but. All Roberts has accomplished here is to waste the time and talents of a great many people, starting with Guy Pearce. We worshipped him in PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, we adored him in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, we are bored to tears with him here. Scruffed up to look like a beaky Charles Manson, he spends his screen time staring very, very hard at people, things, or just out into space as though he were trying to remember why exactly it was that he agreed to be in this film. Rachel Griffiths (the divinely mad Brenda of SIX FEET UNDER) as his cheating wife, slinks through the film sporting blonde hair, buffed nails and little to do but put on her pouty face while batting her mammoth false eyelashes.
THE HARD WORD is remarkable only for being an enormously derivative pit of twaddle that annoys at every turn. Why this was imported here from Australia, I cant imagine. Did the distributors think the marquee value of Pearce and Griffiths would compensate for the crap? This is a business rife with such cynical calculation. Did we do something to offend the Land Down Under and this is payback? If so, it must have been something very, very bad and whatever it was, on behalf of America, I promise we will never, ever do it again.