SYNOPSIS: In TRIPLE 9, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.
REVIEW: Australian director John Hillcoat (Lawless, 2013), brings us this edgy gangster-shoot ’em up, gritty bank-heist thriller that evokes memories of many from the genre such as Denzel Washington’s “Training Day” and Ben Affleck’s “The Town.” It’s actually pretty fierce and stylish, and utterly gripping even though there's a nagging sensation that nothing is happening under the surface. This is possibly due to the heavy dialog that permeates each and every scene, right down to the cops and robbers shootouts.
Thankfully, the casting is so diverse that they add plenty of terrific texture to their characters. Terrell (Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave) leads his crew of thugs (Anthony Mackie [Ant-Man, 2015], Clifton Collins Jr [Transcendence - 2014], Aaron Paul [Breaking Bad] and Norman Reedus [The Walking Dead]) through a well-coordinated series of dangerous robberies. Rounding out the top-notch casting is Kate Winslet (The Divergent Series: Insurgent, 2015) playing the Russian mobster Irina, Casey Affleck (The Finest Hours, 2016) playing Chris the rookie cop and lastly, but certainly not least is the awesome Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay series installments) playing the cynical Detective Jeffery Allen that is always one step away from cracking the case. Oh, and I didn’t even get to mention future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot or former Omar from the television series “The Wire” Michael K. Williams makes some very interesting appearances – yes! So that’s how stacked this cast is! Without question they work their tails off and every performance is solid. Simply put, the casting here is eclectic, dynamic and an eye-catching for any movie-goer’s pallet.
Although the story, from screenwriter Matt Cook, twists and turns considerably as the double-crosses rack up, it never loses the focal point or surprises to come. Furthermore, it firmly places itself in comparison the greats of the heist sub-genre like Michael Mann’s 1995 “Heat,” 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs” and the aforementioned 2010 “The Town,” producing lots of moments to truly treasure. Hence, there may be little here we haven’t seen before like slick reflections of the aforementioned “Heat” pop up everywhere you look, but it’s all carried off with brashness and momentum by a director who genuinely seems to be having a blast. Fans of “The Wire” TV series or Training Day or any good recent flicks with freeway shootouts, black balaclavas, burning trucks and betrayals will find this one worthy of viewing.
The solid direction, storytelling and acting by Hillcoat, Cook and the great cast does not reinvent the crime thriller genre, by any stretch of the imagination, however, they simple do the genre justice here. Four stars out of five might be a little over doing it for me, but I’d certainly say that it’s worth going to the theaters to checkout.
By Movi-Man Stan
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