Triple 9


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

Triple 9
"The film is confused about what it is trying to be - is it a high octane thriller, a gritty police drama or a tragedy? It certainly isn't all three."

In Triple 9 a group of corrupt police officers are crowbarred into performing one last heist by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), the wife of a Russian mob boss. In order to secure her husband's release from one of Putin's prisons, she requires the team to steal documents that are going to be stored for a single day in an FBI vault in Atlanta. The cops, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus and Clifton Collins Jr., are all ex military and well suited to a violent and dramatic theft. Pitted against them is Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) head of the major crimes unit. In order to keep the forces of law and order off their backs during the raid they come up with the cunning plan of killing an officer (Casey Affleck) in some other part of the city, thus drawing police attention from from the vault. With a time tested plot with a little twist and a good cast, what could go wrong: the heist (obviously) or the film?

Triple 9's script is weak. The characters' motives don't seem to be well formed and the dialogue is uninspired. The film is confused about what it is trying to be - is it a high octane thriller, a gritty police drama or a tragedy? It certainly isn't all three. The direction is ponderous. There are a number of beautifully atmospheric sequences but they just screw up the pacing of the film. They feel like unnecessary padding. There are other places where the film just meanders aimlessly. Triple 9 starts with a bank raid. As an action sequence it is competently executed but it isn't anything special. There are many better bank jobs on film, from Inside Man to Killing Zoe. The problem with it, and this is indicative of the problems with the film as a whole, is that it is preceded by the cops sitting in the dark inside a car whining about how they have to be corrupt cops and how they should have got away from the Russian mob a long time ago. Five minutes of cliched mumbling by difficult to identify characters doesn't do the film any favours.

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There is easily enough material in Triple 9 to make an entertaining hour of television but not nearly enough for a two hour film. A good cast and some nice work (especially in the action sequences with cars) is squandered on a poor script and dubious direction. There is also an undercurrent of prejudice running through the film. All the characters who get their rightful comeuppance are drug users, black, Hispanic or Jewish, and their victims tend to be white, middle class and clean cut.

Reviewed on: 19 Feb 2016
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A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.
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Director: John Hillcoat

Writer: Matt Cook

Starring: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Kate Winslet, Theresa Palmer, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Ang

Year: 2016

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: US


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