Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Aaron Paul, Casey Affleck, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Clifton Collins Jr.
I have a good hunch why Triple 9, which was shot a couple of years ago, landed a soft release. Not the best social climate to promote a film about corruption and deadly cops. Still director John Hilcoat, known for his dark, moody and ensemble casts, assembles an intense thriller even if plot logistics and climaxes don’t always pay off. The cast is the main reason to see this film, especially Oscar winner Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), who is literally the only color pallet represented in a shadowy and bleak film. However, it’s physically beefed up Oscar nominee Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) who actually steals the show. Hilcoat’s previous films The Road and Lawless, problematic on their own, still felt more solid than Triple 9.
A group of corrupt, turncoat cops and detectives in Atlanta are pushed against the wall by Russian mob boss Irina Vlaslov. Michael Atwood (Ejiofor) has more at stake than his criminal partners. He has a child with Irina’s younger sister Elena (Galdot), which is constantly used as leverage to get what she wants. Detective Jorge Rodriguez (Collins) is purely in it for the money, while criminal brothers Gabe (Paul) and Russel (Reedus) have made stings like this a career choice. New detective Chris Allen (Affleck) has been partnered with one of ATL’s most corrupt cops Marcus Belmont (Mackie). Marcus has decided the only way to pull off this next heist for Irina is to kill a cop, setting off a triple nine code, clearing the way for the robbery.
One of the most diverse films you are likely to see in 2016
I guess you can’t have it both ways, because while Triple 9 certainly doesn’t have good timing with its subject matter, it is one of the most diverse films you are likely to see in 2016. Affleck is poised to have an exciting year with his upcoming film Manchester By the Sea, already garnering Oscar buzz out of Sundance. Here, the younger Affleck reminds us of his talent on screen as he stands out above considerable talent. Winslet actually replaces Cate Blanchett, who dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts. Actually, Triple 9 seemed plagued with problems from the beginning, as half the original cast changed before production began.
Triple 9 is structured a bit like Sin City, just without any of the comic book junk. What works here is the brooding behavior, there are no real good guys, so as the viewer you watch the betrayals just envelop everyone. If the script has a message, it isn’t clear. Events play out with no real repercussions, maybe crime doesn’t pay, combined with the irony of corrupt cops trusting each other with their lives. Winslet’s villainous role isn’t given enough screen time, and the other female characters even less. The suspense of the film relies on who lives and who dies. The action scenes are not particularly exciting, it’s the quitter moments in the darkness, where anything can happen, that delivers the few thrills.
The cast is stronger than the suspense.