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.