Triple 9

Posted February 28, 2016 by in

Quick Stats

Genre: heist film, action
Director: John Hillcoat
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Stars: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie
Length: 1 hour 55 minutes
Release Date: 2-26-2016
Studio: Worldview Entertainment, Anonymous Content, MadRiver Pictures
What We Thought

A taut exercise in suspense, in almost a Hitchcockian sense. It is stylish, gritty, and violent.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Cops look out for cops.  The streets can be dangerous, but they trust eachTriple 9 other with their lives.  When a cop is shot, every available officer rushes to their aide.  On the other side of the law, they say there’s no honor among thieves.  But what if a man is both cop and crook?
     In Triple 9, a team of corrupt cops intend to use a Code 999 as a distraction to pull off a heist for the Russian mob.  However, that means sacrificing one of their own.
     Triple 9 is a taut exercise in suspense, in almost a Hitchcockian sense.  We know early on what the cops are planning.  The question is, will their mark will find out?  He is Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), a recent transfer, married man and father.  He’s also a good cop in a bad city, partnered to Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), who is one of the masked bank robbers.
     Affleck and Mackie are but two of star-studded cast, including AMC alumni Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul (who happen to portray brothers), Clifton Collins Jr, and Woody Harrelson.  Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays their ex-special forces leader Michael Atwood, while Kate Winslet is the heavy, mobster Irina Vlaslov.
     The cast is talented, but too large for a thriller.  The story lacks economy of characters in a dense, busy plot, especially when the screenplay unnecessarily throws in the cop’s fathers, sons, wives, husbands, girlfriends and so on, which include Gal Godot and Teresa Palmer.  Consequently, character development and relationships are short-changed to keep things rolling along.
     triple-nineTriple 9 is a fine genre film, not trying to do much new, but it executes itself with aplomb under John Hillcoat’s direction.  It is stylish, gritty, and violent.  The screenplay by freshman scribe Matt Cook leaves no loose ends, and allows for brief moments of levity in an otherwise nihilistic tale.
     The tone is appropriate for its subject matter.  The film is rated R, and pulls no punches in terms of the language of the streets, or its violence.  At one point, Vlaslov opens a trunk, where two prisoners are kept.  She shows them a bag of teeth she’s collected before tossing it in with them.  She means business, and so does this film.
     I’ll give Triple 9 one thing:  it is one of the darkest films in the heist subgenre in recent memory.  It is populated with all manner of low-lifes.  Mafia, street gangs, hookers.  Even its cops are crooks. You know it’s bad when the moral conscience of the robbers is a junkie.  It’s a film about bad men doing bad deeds.  Triple 9 is an engaging film, and fairly exciting.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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