The Hard Word
4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the hard word After Dirty Deeds, here's another lively Australian crime comedy with serious edge to it ... and a fantastic cast. The three Twentyman brothers--brainy Dale, cheerful Mal, muscly Shane (Pearce, Richardson, Edgerton)--are doing time for bank robbery when they're sprung from the joint to help two bent cops (Colosimo and Sonkkila) rob an armoured van, with assistance from Dale's wife (Griffiths) and their lawyer Frank (Taylor). Double-crossed and back in prison, the brothers reluctantly take a chance at revenge with another job, stealing the money from the Melbourne Cup. But Frank is in charge this time, trouble is afoot, and they'll only survive if they stick together.

The script crackles with life and the film is sharply directed, but this is after all just another caper flick with attitude (Tarantino has a lot to answer for!). On the other hand, the cast is so solid that it rises above the fray. Amid their stellar Hollywood careers, Pearce and Griffiths return home to Australia to play against type as an edgy, off-kilter couple--neither is quite sure what they'll do next or if they can trust each other. Meanwhile, the cast is filled out with fine actors like the ubiquitous Edgerton and Colosimo, as well as the lesser-known Richardson and Taylor. The whole ensemble works perfectly together while maintaining wonderfully individualistic characters. The three brothers are especially good--almost three sides to a single person (they're almost never apart!). Meanwhile, first-time director Roberts keeps the mood tense and the tone both angry and funny, with flashes of serious drama to make it more meaningful than most crime movies. The story itself is so tricky and complex that the film feels much longer than it actually is, but it's such a gripping, entertaining ride that we don't mind at all.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 1.Jul.03

dir-scr Scott Roberts
with Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton, Damien Richardson, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Taylor, Rhondda Findleton, Kate Atkinson, Vince Colosimo, Paul Sonkkila, Dorian Nkono, Kym Gyngell, Stephen Whittaker
release US 13.Jun.03; UK 12.Sep.03
02/Australia 1h42

Brothers in arms: Richardson, Pearce and Edgerton.

pearce griffiths colosimo
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... the hard word "I personally liked the working title, Blood & Guts, but it had to be dropped when the US distributor didn't like it. The film in its final version isn't that gory anyway but certainly has plenty of gunplay - the kind of genre that film bodies love to hate. It's basically a prettier feature-length Blue Murder with a nod to Lock Stock. Three brothers are let out of jail by corrupt cops to commit crimes but are then betrayed by various parties with eventually explosive results. Whilst lacking the originality or brilliance of Chopper it's still a bloody good yarn with great acting, plenty of laughs and Australianisms. Good on Rachel Griffiths and Guy Pearce for returning home to support the local industry! We may not see them for a while if the SAG action forces them to choose between million dollar Hollywood contracts or local pay rates. Overall well worth seeing and a good Saturday night's entertainment that should pull at least a few mil at the local box office, quite possibly more. ***1/2" --Gawain McLachlan, Filmnet, Melbourne 15.May.02
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall