"The Hard Word" is just on o.k. film. I've seen better, seen worse. It's a crime caper wrapped around a love triangle, and neither storyline works altogether well. There are problems with the script, and it is my personal feeling that Rachel Griffiths, a fine actress in her own right, is miscast in the blonde bombshell role, and instead looks like a man in drag. Sorry, but that's the way it looked. And that threw-off much of the love triangle aspect for me. As for the crime caper element, much of that seemed a little off, as well.
"The Hard Word" starts off with the release from prison of three men: Dale, Shane and Mal. Some cast listings I've seen has the trio as being brothers, but then in a segment with a prison counselor, Shane describes his family life growing up, and it doesn't sound as though he had any brothers. So go figure. Once the guys are free, their crooked lawyer, Frank, has them set-up to do a robbery. They do this, but it lands them back in prison. Frank finds a way to get them out again, but they have yet another heist waiting in the wings.
Guy Pearce ("LA Confidential" and "Memento") plays Dale, the head of the trio of criminals. He turns in a good performance, but is stuck with an uneven script. Joel Edgerton and Damien Richardson, as his co-horts Shane and Mal, are good in their roles, but their characters are bizarre. Shane has had an admittedly bad childhood, and has anger management issues. He even seduces the prison counselor in a particularly ludicrous sub-plot. Mal fancies himself to be quite a good chef, and his specialty seems to be blood sausages (a favorite of Shane's). I'd never heard of blood sausages before this film, and believe me, I never want to hear of them again. As mentioned earlier, Rachel Griffiths stars as Carol, Dale's wife. She has been dilly-dallying with lawyer Frank on the side. Frank is quite enamored with her -- why, I don't know. That's part of the problem with this movie. Dale is a con who is in and out of prison all the time, and has apparently never come across a shaving razor. Carol is hardly a bombshell, although she is blonde, and instead snorts cocaine and sleeps around with whatever available man she can find. And she looks like a man in drag. Did I mention that already? Frank (played by Robert Taylor) is a double-crossing, back-stabbing person who is only out for himself. These people are three peas in a pod, but they do not inspire any real interest from the audience as to their plight. A mistake, when a good part of your movie is supposed to be about this love triangle.
As far as heists go, "The Hard Word" features two, but it seems like more. The trio of ex-prisoners commit the first heist once freed from prison, and they will supposedly be given a free pass because there are crooked cops in on it, but I could see the writing on the wall regarding this, yet these three seasoned professionals were totally surprised when events conspired against them, and they were hauled back to prison. Once they are released (again) they commit the 2nd heist and, of course, things go wrong (don't they always in these types of films?) Things stay interesting for a little while afterwards, but eventually I felt worn down with the whole excursion. Everyone came across as bumbling and inept, if not downright unlikeable. Finally, after going through at least two possible ending points, I just wanted the movie to be over with, already.
"The Hard Word" tries. It really does. It thinks it has got a good premise -- a heist/crime caper and a sultry love triangle --- but it in the end it has almost nothing. The heists are so blatantly set-up to fail that the suspense is barely evident. We know things will go wrong. We can even tell *what* things. We know people will be double-crossed, and we know by whom. We do not find the blond bombshell desirable, because she isn't a blond bombshell. The film has such little point and meaning except to exist for its own sake that in having no real substantive suspense or points of interest, "The Hard Word" is simply "The Dull Word".