Review: In Triple 9, a group of dirty cops and ex-soldiers are blackmailed by Russian-Israeli mobs into doing a perilous heist with an almost zero chance to succeed. Their only option is making a 999 – a police code for ‘officer down’ – which will buy them some extra time to perform the impossible.
Similar to the on-screen heist, Triple 9 – with distinguished cast full of extraordinaires; dirty R-rated premise as well as gritty, crimson-dominating imagery – can’t help but going fast awry. John Hillcoat (Lawless) with first-time writer Matt Cook seems to realize that some elements could be combined into making a filthy thriller, like The Departed or Heat. The thing is, they do not know how to develop those fine combinations into a compact, poignant, morally ambiguous piece as it’s expected to be.
Triple 9 actually opens with enticing preface – a bit talky dialogue which kinda reveals some complexity in its substance; a broad daylight heist with tense and raw sequence; then followed by the iconic red flare scene. Once the scene wrapped, the film moves into a more disjointed territory; it falls short to series of familiar paths as it runs out of fuel before the titular event is even sounded.
Enticing characters introduced in the beginning gradually lose their charm in results of unfocused scripts – to which character it will have the main spotlight – and direction – whether making it an uncomfortable slow burn thriller or just an action-less action flick. As one-dimensional characters, Chiwetel Ejiofor and comrades deliver dire performance, but when their characters gone undeveloped; even 3 Oscar nominees and an Oscar winner could not lift Triple 9 from boredom pit.
As mentioned previously, Triple 9 is just like the on-screen heist – it has potentials, but cannot manage it into a meaningful one. As a dirty cops movie, it’s not even half-dirty.
Triple 9 (2016)
Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller Directed by: John Hillcoat Written by: Matt Cook Starred by: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot Runtime: 115 mins Rated R