The Hard Word (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Although this Australian film is ordinary on the surface, it manages to be a good enough watch by recycling the familiar crime/caper situations with richly imagined characters.

Three brothers form a criminal band which is currently defunct, given their incarceration. Their sleazy lawyer manages to spring them by striking some shady deals with the local police and politicians. As part of the deal, the brothers have to pull off some heists and share the loot with the  assorted corrupt individuals who helped to spring them. Unfortunately for our boys, they are let out only for the job, then sent back to prison in a double-cross, absent even a small share of their loot. Repeat as necessary.


  • Rhondda Findleton shows one breast in a scene where she is otherwise clothed.
  • Leanne McCulloch shows her breasts in a scene which seems clearly gratuitous. She's only in that one scene, which is completely unnecessary, and she's getting a naked massage.

The scams are nothing special, the double crosses are all completely predictable, and the editing sometimes supplies a jumpy narrative, so there really aren't any rewards in the plot. If you watch a heist film for the intricate twists and turns, you will be disappointed.

On the other hand, the film benefits greatly from some in-depth characterizations of the three brothers who form the core of the film. The brothers are fleshed out in great detail, are colorful, and are quite different from one another. Couple that with some slick cinematography, some unusual Australian locales, good actors, and a cheeky sense of humor throughout the dialogue, and it makes the film worth watching. If you don't care much whether a film has a workmanlike plot, but enjoy humor and offbeat characterizations, you should enjoy it.

Bottom line: it was a pretty good movie which could have been much better with more interesting crimes and twists.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

Guy Pearce (Memento and L.A Confidential) stars, and I believe he is wearing the same putty nose that Kidman wore in The Hours. There doesn't seem to be any reason for the nose, since ol' Guy is playing a fictional character who might have any kind of nose, even one exactly like Pearce's natural one. I think the nose and some scruffy facial hair are just there to allow people to allow Pearce to hide in the character, thus allowing audiences to watch the film without thinking, "It's the Memento dude", therefore facilitating an identification with the character instead of the actor.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert assigned two and a half stars. I think I would have given the same score, given his system.

  • General UK consensus: slightly less than two stars. Mail 2/10, Telegraph 5/10, Independent 4/10, Guardian 6/10, Times 4/10, Sun 5/10, Express 6/10, Mirror 6/10, BBC 2/5

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 6.3/10, Yahoo voters B.
  • Box Office Mojo. It was distributed modestly in the USA, grossing about a half million dollars in 38 theaters.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Solid crime/drama/comedy because of the characterizations.

Return to the Movie House home page