Director Scott Roberts' first movie, The Hard Word, is the movie Guy Ritchie should have made last summer when he was otherwise busy destroying his career with the Madonna bomb Swept Away. Originally filmed under the title Blood and Guts, this hyperactive Aussie crime-flick bombards the audience with a jumble of new and re-used ideas that somehow add up to a very enjoyable film. It's all here - a handful of stylishly executed robberies, a love triangle, the therapist who sleeps with her patients, cross-dressing police and sausages made from human flesh possibly most inventive way of hiding a corpse since Fargo.

The three "Twentyman" brothers (Dale, Shane and Mal) are career criminals who are in a constant state of arrest no thanks to their lawyer -and boss - Frank. He repeatedly pulls them out of prison to help finish jobs and lets them get then thrown back in so Frank can avoid giving them their cut and continue shagging Dale's wife. But when they are pulled for what Frank plans as a final job it's time for revenge.

At the center of everything is Dale (played by Guy Pearce). His latest character couldn't be a further cry from Det. Lt. Exley, the LA Confidential role that first brought him to the attention of filmgoers. Pearce is in top form throughout - he seems more at ease filming in his native country, perhaps because he is empowered by a deeper understanding of the Australian setting and freed from having to worry about his accent.

Though slow at times, Roberts' script trots along at a steady pace, showing just enough originality and a fair bit of wit - in one scene, which is characteristic of the rest of the film, he takes the saying "cash cow" literally. The formula doesn't get tinkered with too much though - as the movie builds to a climax there is never much doubt about who will come out on top.

When the credits roll, finding the right words to describe this film isn't hard - it's bloody good.


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