TRIPLE 9 (USA/16/115mins)
Directed by John Hillcoat. Starring Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Tersa Palmer, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor.
THE PLOT: After pulling off a bank heist for the Russian mafia, crooks Russell (Norman Reedus), Gabe (Aaron Paul) and corrupt cops Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) are forced to do one more job for Irina (Kate Winslet), in order to pay off their debt to her. The trouble is that new cop Chris (Casey Affleck) has his suspicions, and this new job will take longer to pull off, so the crew decide to buy themselves some time by staging a Triple Nine – killing a police officer.
THE VERDICT: ‘Triple 9’ is a change of pace of Lawless and The Road director John Hillcoat, as he takes on a police thriller that focuses on corrupt police officers using their power to break the law.
The ensemble cast, for the most part, are strong in their roles; it is really the story of Casey Affleck’s Chris and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Michael, and these are the performances that stand out. As well as these, Anthony Mackie is strong as Marcus, the cop who is partnered with Chris all of a sudden, and Woody Harrelson obviously has a lot of fun playing the eccentric investigating officer. Elsewhere, Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus have less to do. Winslet’s accent is a little all over the place, but Paul and Reedus do well with the little they are given.
Matt Cook’s screenplay feels familiar in that it can be easily compared to ‘Heat’ and any other police thriller you could care to mention… ‘Training Day’ perhaps!? The difference in the story occurs through the relationships in the film; the entire undercurrent of the film is of family as many of the characters struggle to hold on to what they have got and the people they love. The twists, such as they are, are not too shocking or even twisty, and there is a point in the middle when it is unclear who the audience should be rooting for to make it out of this tangle of right and wrong. As director, John Hillcoat obviously enjoyed himself in making this cop thriller, but there is so much story to fit into the 115 minute running time that the film feels as though it is dragging its heels for the first hour. The set pieces are slick and well made; the film comes into its own once the relationships come into play and John Hillcoat once again shows off his talent at making criminals and anti-heroes the ones the audience roots for, but also making sure that not many of them make it out of the film intact.
In all,’ Triple 9′ is a departure for director John Hillcoat, and there is a lot of fun to be had with this tangled police thriller, but there are times when the story becomes muddled, actors are underused and some accents are a little too chewy to forgive.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Triple 9
Review by Brogen Hayes
3.5Great cast
  • filmbuff2011

    Australian director John Hillcoat’s new film Triple 9 is another typically bruising, but well-orchestrated study of male egos clashing against authority figures and each other. As with Lawless and The Proposition, there’s that constant theme of sudden violence erupting from just underneath the surface.

    Terrell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a career criminal who heads up a ruthless team of hardened criminals such as Gabe (Aaron Paul) who commit robberies with violent consequences. Some of these criminals are also members of the police – such as Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Jorge (Clifton Collins Jr.). They work for the Russian mafia, which is headed up locally by mob boss wife Irina (Kate Winslet). She wants a particular job done – retrieve an important package from the Homeland Security building. It won’t be easy though – the building is heavily guarded. When she applies some pressure to Terrell, he finds a way: plan the murder of police officer Chris (Casey Affleck), who also works with Sergeant Detective Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson). This is a 999 – a police code for an officer down who needs assistance. This will draw away the police to a different location and thereby slow down their response time. But knowing who to trust will be more difficult than anything else…

    Triple 9 is a solid, meaty crime thriller from writer Matt Cook and director Hillcoat. It’s gripping from the get-go, with a daring heist whose conflict spills out onto the street in a hail of gunfire. Michael Mann’s Heat is a clear influence, but Hillcoat gives the film his own distinctive branding and voice. There’s a great line from the recent Our Brand Is Crisis that’s very applicable – ‘if you fight with monsters for too long, then you become a monster’. That’s the story of these corrupt cops whose career goals seem lost in a haze of gunfire and greed for more money. There’s also a sense that they’re really puppets being controlled by a more sinister force such as the Russian mafia.

    It’s exciting and tense stuff to watch, with an excellent ensemble cast who really deliver on the acting front. Winslet has played villains before (e.g. the Divergent series), but here she’s colder and more calculating. In what is a guy-heavy film, she holds her own court and rules it with an iron fist. Unfortunately, Teresa Palmer and Gal Gadot are given smaller parts in what amounts to little more than eye candy to balance out the testosterone. However, the main drive of the story – that of the cops, corrupt cops and robbers all pursuing each other – is consistently strong on tone and doesn’t slow down. The strain of distrust running through the film is also intriguing – everyone has to watch their back here. Triple 9 is a riveting crime thriller that comes highly recommended. ****

  • Clive Bower

    Triple 9 – Really enjoyed it ,was go go go from the get go right until the end. The storty did get a bit over complicated in the middle but would highly recommend this film as its great action packed entertainment with a first class cast.

  • emerb

    Written by Mark Cook and directed by John Hillcoat, “Triple 9” is a dirty-cop thriller with some spectacular crime sequences, a great opening, riveting action and a strong cast. With intense and committed performances from a large ensemble cast that includes Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kate Winslet, this is a typically gritty bank heist tale, complete with crooked cops and a fiendish Russian mob boss. The mysterious “Triple 9” title refers to “officer down”, inside
    information used to distract police to one location while a big crime is being pulled off at another and that forms the basis for the plot here.

    It starts with a bang! Led by cop and former Special Forces ace Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an Atlanta-based criminal gang comprising corrupt police and/or ex-military (Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Clifton Collins Jr. and Norman Reedus), has just pulled off a (mostly) successful daytime bank heist that spirals into a battle on a crowded freeway. Michael is essentially just a puppet of the so-called “Kosher Mafia,” a Russian-Israeli mobster gang and the jobs are being
    pulled at the behest of ruthless Russian/Israeli mobstress Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet).

    Sneering at their latest haul, Irina forces Michael to take on one more robbery, a long-shot scheme that will require great daring, skill and very good luck. If he doesn’t, he will face very unfortunate consequences involving the young son he shares with Irina’s sultry sister, Elena (Gal Gadot), which has effectively locked
    him in a custody battle with the mob. To pull off this time-sensitive new heist, the gang soon realises that they will need a major diversion, and they hit upon the idea of executing a Triple 9 to allow them to pull off their crime on the opposite side of town while law enforcement are distracted. They decide to make their victim Marcus’s new partner – Chris Allen (Affleck) – an honest cop and also coincidentally the nephew of the cop investigating the earlier robbery (Woody Harrelson). There are few surprises to how this it all plays out – bodies pile up, there are shootouts, standoffs and showdowns, many brutal eruptions of violence and tense confrontations are numerous.

    There is a quality line up here and all the strong actors do good work, showing a deep commitment to their characters. Once again, in this male-dominated society, the women are only a peripheral feature, apart from Kate Winslet’s unique figure of an ice-cold crime boss – she’s a standout. Gal Gadot as Ejiofor’s ex and Teresa Palmer as Affleck’s wife hardly get a look in. I thought Ejiofor was excellent as Michael, the ruthless brains behind this operation who’s secretly at the mercy of Irina, who is essentially holding his young son hostage until he carries out her wishes. Affleck is superb as a cop who quickly learns
    to be suspicious of his new partner, while Mackie plays Marcus as a tough guy who, in a moment of weakness, discovers he has actually got a conscience.
    Other notables include Aaron Paul as the drunken, unpredictable member of Michael’s team and Woody Harrelson as the principled detective investigating
    the bank heist.

    “Triple 9” is a rather familiar set up with the usual mix of good cops, corrupt cops, tattooed Hispanic gang members, the Russian mob and all set in a world of corruption and amoral violence where there are very few clean heroes. Nonetheless, the storyline here is absorbing and together with a few well-placed surprises and the constant atmosphere of tension and dread, you will be kept engaged and focussed throughout. The box office isn’t dominated by blockbusters at the moment so I would expect it should lure a decent adult audience, those with a taste for tough guys and fast action. If, like me, you enjoy
    a gritty, exciting and violent cop-drama/heist movie, then this is one for you and you will find yourself firmly pinned to your seat!

  • Joseph McCarthy

    A successful robbery crew, made up of convicts and cops gone bad, are recruited to pull off a heist to steal evidence that would convict a Russian mobster, but must distract the entire police force in Atlanta long enough to get away with it.