Directed by Scott Roberts, starring Guy Pearce, Damien Richardson, Joel Edgerton, Robert Taylor and Rachel Griffiths.

Three criminal brothers, a slippy lawyer, a devious and slutty wife, and a plan to relieve the bookies of their takings at the Melbourne Cup. This is 'The Hard Word', a slight and ultimately unsatisfying crime caper flick from Down Under.

Dale, Mal and Shane are the Twentyman brothers, bank robbers who must be the kindest criminals in cinema history. Dale (Pearce) is the smart one, Mal (Richardson) is the funny/easy-going one and Shane (Edgerton) is the loose screw. On the wrong end of their usual see-saw of free time/hard time, the brothers are waiting for their crooked lawyer Frank (Taylor) to negotiate their release from the slammer. To become free men though, the lads must sign up for the Melbourne heist…

In a bid to enrich the plot, writer/director Scott Roberts throws in a few bent cops, some nasty Melbourne hoods, and, of course, a femme fatale. The latter is Dale's wife Carol (Griffiths), a simmering sex bomb who may or may not be in cahoots with Frank.

There is no real guile to 'The Hard Word' and that is its ultimate failure. There's double crossing, there's sexual intrigue, and there are quite a few laughs. But something like this has got to be clever, because we've simply seen it all before. In fact, if this came out of America, it would (and should) die an instant death.

But although there's nothing new in their characterisation, there is good chemistry between the three brothers. Guy Pearce has never ruined anything and is as solid as ever here, while Edgerton and the infectious Richardson give good support. Together they provide a decent dollop of that winningly ebullient wit and charm specific to the Antipodeans.

Still, you always get the feeling here that Roberts never actually knows where he's going with it. There are at least three occasions in the final quarter when you will grab your things thinking the film is about to end. To make matters worse, the note on which it does end is the least satisfying.

A solid cast and some good moments, but 'The Hard Word' is still routinely unexceptional.

Tom Grealis