Review: The Word


Director:Gregory W. Friedle

Cast:Kevin O' Donnell, James Naughton, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Maggie Lacey

Running Time:104.00


At my day job recently, a colleague said of a firm we were auditing, "I can't think of a thing [they] do right." I couldn't help but think of that as I finished The Word, a so-called thriller that fails at every turn.

Kevin O'Donnell stars as Tom Hawkins, a father grieving his young son's kidnapping and murder. As local police and the FBI inform him, it was part of a cult ritual. It's here that the film starts with two of its biggest problems. One, the procedural dialogue could not be more tin-eared. No one speaks with any authority or sounds like they'd make good cops. They barely make passable actors. 

Quincy Dunn-Baker plays one of the detectives, and the film telegraphs his murky motives in trying to solve the case are telegraphed a mile away. He gets assigned to go undercover to infiltrate the cult, then stupidly falls for the woman who's initiating him. The stupidity doesn't stop there, but I won't spoil any of it.

The second, and worst part of this whole dreadful mess, is the religious angle. It rests on the idea that Tom is a devout Catholic consumed by revenge who feels tremendous guilt throughout his quest. But the script by Steve Grimaldi never firmly establishes any sort of religious preference to Tom. It just tosses on some confession scenes to fluff up its flimsy premise. 

And it's agonizingly slow. There are way too many scenes of Tom sitting around his big house or at the funeral, sobbing uncontrollably. He's not a good enough actor to make you feel his character's grief. And when another detective cracks the cult's code, we literally watch his Power Point presentation in real time. There are no transitions, no voiceover, no expertise at all. 

That's the way it is with The Word overall. This is a group of amateurs doing an extremely thin cop story that never does anything well.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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