Tony's Take

Triple 9

The Code on the Street is Never Black and White

Triple 9 posterTriple 9, directed by John Hillcoat (Lawless, The Road) begins with a team of 5 well-trained individuals executing the perfect bank robbery in Atlanta, or so it seems.  After breaking-in and locating the specific safety deposit box they were after, the crew exits and, after a brief standoff on a bridge, make it back to their own cars where we learn two of them are cops.  Evidently, a branch of the Russian Mob is calling the shots and they want the team to pull-off one more job before leaving them alone.  In-order to be successful, they will need to pull a 9-9-9, which is the police code for officer down.  This will give them plenty of time to complete the heist because every cop will be looking for the cop killer.  The rest of the film follows these dirty cops as they information slowly begins to come-out and their identities become uncovered.

Casey Affleck stars as the new cop on the beat and former Marine, Chris Allen.  Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as the unofficial leader of the crime group, Michael Belmont.  Anthony Mackie is police officer Marcus Atwood.  Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus play a pair of brother, Gabe and Russel Welch.  Woody Harrelson plays an interesting police detective, Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen.  Kate Winslet has an odd but equally-fun role as the wife of an incarcerated Russian Mob Boss, Irina Vlaslov.  Clifton Collins Jr. plays police Officer Jorge Rodriguez.  Michael K. Williams has a brief role as a police informant.  Teresa Palmer plays Chris’ wife, Michelle.  Gal Gadot plays Irina’s sister and Michael’s former lover, Elena.  Luis de Silva plays a big drug dealer named Pinto.

Triple 9 gave me mixed-feelings throughout; many scenes had me excited and blown-away, while others unfortunately left me wanting more (in a bad way).  The film boasts an A+ cast and they are all equally impressive in their own way.  Affleck is at the top of his game right now, Ejiofor is strong as always, Mackie is particularly impressive as a dirty cop with a good heart, Harrelson is hilarious as a cop who walks the line, and Winslet clearly shows she likes to have fun too!  However, the cast is not just strong, they also bounce off each other well.  The film also excels due to its tense and often-unpredictable suspense.  Triple 9’s opening is one of the most badass and suspenseful opening sequences you’ll see all year.  Now I don’t want to undeservedly overly-praise this film; but when Triple 9 is at its best, it shares some of the best qualities as similar films, such as: Heat and The Departed.  Unfortunately, Triple 9 leaves much to be desired though.  The film’s writing it often-times dull and its story feels incomplete.  They give us so many interesting characters but they never decide to build on them by showing us their past.  Triple 9 also carries some serious pacing issues, as the film takes forever to finally move-on through the story.  I really wanted Triple 9 to be more, but I still see it destined to become a cult classic (see if you can spot Reedus’ small (unintentional?) Boondock Saints easter egg).  Triple 9 has a run time of 115 minutes and while often entertaining, it drags on due to its small story.  Triple 9 is entertaining, but it isn’t exactly a film that needs to be seen in theaters, but this cast certainly makes it worth the 2 hours!  It’s not often I enjoy a movie then recommend not to see it in theaters, but that’s how I feel with Triple 9!

Triple 9 follows a group of friends who are trying to do whatever necessary to cut ties with the Russians, including a few dirty cops.  The film has a few tense action sequences, an A-list cast, and an interesting (albeit minimal) story.  If you are heading to the theaters this weekend, use Triple 9 as an option only if you know what you’re in for; but be sure to check it out eventually!

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Triple 9 is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and some nudity, in theaters Friday!

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