Title – Triple 9 (2016)
Director – John Hillcoat (Lawless)
Cast – Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Woody Harrelson, Teresa Palmer, Clifton Collins Jr, Norman Reedus, Gal Gadot
Plot – Forced into doing a job for Russian crime boss Irina Vlaslov (Winslet), criminal Michael Atwood (Ejiofor) and his crew of heist specialists, that include a duo of dirty cops, come up with a plan that will involve taking down a member of the force in what’s known as a 999 to give them time to enact their robbery plans.
“To survive out here, you’ve got to out monster the monster. Can you do that?”
Review by Eddie on 12/09/2016
Let’s be clear, Triple 9 isn’t a “great” film by any stretch of the imagination and it so easily could’ve been (just look at that cast!) but Aussie director John Hillcoat’s star studded high octane thriller is a frequently uncompromising experience that should be a particularly solid experience for those that have enjoyed the likes of Training Day, End of Watch and gritty crime dramas of yonder years.
Hillcoat, who is quietly crafting out an impressively consistent filmography on the back of his Australian classic The Proposition and fine Hollywood films The Road and Lawless, directs Triple 9 with an intense realism that starts out with a bang after a highly eventful opening stanza and the film barely pauses for breathe as it rockets along through double crosses, raids, philosophical musings and all that may fall between. Everything within Triple 9 feels short on time and with such a loaded ensemble its where the film falls apart as the audience is never given sufficient time to really get to know these characters, whether they be good or whether they be very bad apples indeed.
Covering all the character tropes of genre films gone by, Triple 9 introduces us to a world featuring Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jr’s heartless cops/criminals, Kate Winslet’s big bad Russian crime boss, Casey Affleck’s new to the beat Gang Unit officer Chris Allen who in theory is supposed to be our main point of contact alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor’s criminal mastermind Michael Atwood and along for the ride is Woody Harrelson stealing many of the films best scenes as a booze loving cop and even Jesse Pinkman himself and Daryl Dixon appear in the forms of Aaron Paul (sporting the years worst movie haircut) and Norman Reedus not to mention a pre-Wonder Woman appearance from Gal Gadot.
To say any of these characters get enough screen time or enough fleshing out would be wrong (overall Matt Cook’s script just isn’t on point enough in this sense) and even if Ejiofor and Mackie try their hardest with their given screen time, we find ourselves in the rare case for modern day films that it would’ve benefited Triple 9 greatly to spend more time in an overall runtime sense to benefit these myriad collections of people and when the films overly rushed finale comes around, it does feel as though the filmmakers struggled with tying everything up in meaningful way after the many various narrative turns taken throughout proceedings.
A crime thriller that could’ve quite simply been a genre classic had more elements fallen into place, Triple 9 is nevertheless a baggage free experience that doesn’t skimp on the violence and darkness that has made itself known as a staple of John Hillcoat’s works and while unlikely to be remembered in conversations in years to come, you could do a lot worse than Triple 9 when looking for your next slice of the cops v robbers life.
PS – keep an eye peeled for a particularly colourful appearance from The Wire’s very own Michael K. Williams!
3 ½ wig wearing Omar Little’s out of 5