Triple 9

Posted: March 3, 2016 in Film reviews
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Directed by John Hillcoat. Starring Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson.

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In Atlanta Georgia a bank is robbed by a crew comprised of former soldiers and corrupt cops. They aren’t interested in money however, their target is the contents of a single safety deposit box. They’ve been hired by Irina Vlaslov (Winslet) the wife of a Russian gangster currently imprisoned in a gulag. The contents of the safety deposit box form part of a plan to get her husband released. There’s a second element to this however, which is held inside a secure Federal building, and she withholds payment from the robbers, demanding they undertake the second job. She uses intimidation and blackmail, in particular against the crew’s leader Michael Atwood (Ejiofor) who has a son by Irina’s sister (a woefully underused Gal Gadot).

The crew know they won’t have enough time to complete the heist before the police turn up, but detectives Belmont and Rodriguez (Mackie and Clifton Collins, Jr.) have an idea, they want to pull a Triple 9, the code given when a police officer is killed, something guaranteed to draw pretty much every cop in the city towards a single point. They even have an officer in mind, straight arrow detective Chris Allen (Affleck) who just happens to be the nephew of Jeffrey Allen (Harrelson) the senior detective investigating the original heist.

As the day of the heist draws near it the scene is set for violence and double crosses aplenty, but will anyone survive the day?

When I first saw the trailer for Triple 9 I was hooked. I love a good heist thriller and the cast was superb, with the addition of The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul being the icing on the cake.

Sadly a great cast doesn’t always equal a great film, and Triple 9 is far from being a classic, in fact its main virtue seems to be to remind you just how fantastic films like Training Day actually are.

The script is unimaginative and pretty much every twist or double cross you can see coming a mile away. The action scenes are decent, if a little generic, but there are long gaps in between them. That’s fine, often I prefer the talky scenes to the action ones anyway, but the trouble is that the dialogue is flat, and because of the sheer number of actors involved no character gets fleshed out, they’re all two dimensional and therefore it’s hard to care about any of them. Harrelson stands out but even so he’s just playing a slightly scuzzier version of his character in True Detectives (Similarly Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul with their respective TV characters). As if with no space to establish a character many of the actors just fall back on type.

Ejiofor convinces as a mercenary and puts his all into it but even he feels sketchy. Similarly Winslet, whose performance seems to mainly revolve around her character’s dress sense and a vague hint of an accent (which is a nice touch, it would have been easy to overdo that). I don’t blame the actors, they can only work with what they have and I thought most of them did a good job, especially Mackie who at least manages to inflect his character with a hint of shade. Affleck is worst served as the white hat of the piece.

The Atlanta setting is at least a change from the standard New York/LA backdrop too many films of this ilk use, but even so at times we could be watching any city and it never comes alive as a character within the film, which to be honest is a problem the rest of the ensemble have.

It isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just utterly average and forgettable.

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Comments
  1. I’ll give it a miss, but thank you for explaining the ‘triple nine- thingy. I’d been thinking it must be called nine-one-one in the states!

  2. starkers70 says:

    ha ha, you’re welcome

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