Director: John Hillcoat
Duration: 116 minutes
Triple 9 (Blu-ray) – Movie Review
Imagine being part of a crew when one member is being blackmailed into heists that requires your entire crew, knowing that when you ascend the rainbow, a pot of gold will be at your feet. A promise however, can be broken easily and your crew is forced to do yet another heist, with another pot of gold at your feet. Loyalty is the key component in this crime thriller drama about former militants and corrupt cops that are being blackmailed to pull off heists for a powerful Jewish Russian Mafia family.
At the start of the film, we see a group of five men successfully rob a bank, pretending like it is their every day job. Their teamwork is essential and soon you’ll begin to notice that these men must have had some military training. Things go somewhat south on their way back to the safe house, or in their case, safe garage. The heist itself is still successful as the safe deposit box is in their hands. The box itself contains information that could overturn the conviction of a Russian mob boss whose wife Irina (Kate Winslet) orchestrated the whole ordeal. Former SEAL and head of the group Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is being blackmailed by Irina, who is using her own nephew as leverage to keep Michael at bay. When Michael demands their payment, Irina downright refuses and gives Michael and his crew yet another job.
Aside from Michael, his crew is comprised of Russell Welch (Norman Reedus), another former SEAL, Russell’s brother Gabe (Aaron Paul), an alcoholic ex-cop as well as two corrupt cops, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) a homicide detective. Each and every one of them have their demons but they form a tight-knight group and they go ahead with the heist. Although the heist seems like yet another easy job, it becomes much harder when they know they need to break into Homeland Security and steal a specific case that will only be in the federal office for 24 hours. To convince the group to go ahead despite the hurdles, the mafia tortures and dumps Russell whose injuries are too severe to survive. In only a matter of seconds, Michael and Russell decide to do what is best for Russell and their crew as well as their plans and Michael shoots Russell, relieving him from his slow demise.
Mad about the way the mafia handled the blackmail, the group decides to go ahead anyway and must now form a plan of action. All the scenarios they can come up with leave them with little time to pull off the heist until Marcus and Franco suggest a 999 scenario. The other members of the group are unaware of its meaning and request more info on this particular scenario. Soon it becomes clear that a code 999 stands for officer down, in which all available units head over to the scene of the crime, giving it top priority. Marcus’ new partner on the job, Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is the lucky winner of the draw but things don’t quite go as planned and the crew member numbers dwindle one by one.
The action sequences in Tiple 9 are certainly plenty thanks to the heists and corrupt cops that we follow around. Some of these action sequences seem a bit over-the-top but being corrupt brings out the worst of us, so this part of the film can be excused. The performances however cannot be excused. With actors such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson (portraying Chris’ uncle and cop, Jeffrey Allen) and Kate Winslet, you’re hoping for a stellar performance in a complicated plot. Although the performances itself are more than okay from each actor, the characteristics and actions of their characters are downright annoying and superficial, creating the illusion of poor performance for all parties involved.
As for the narrative, the plot is immediately laid out in your lap and this ruins the mystery behind the heists. To top it off, the detectives tasked to find this gang are not bringing in the much-needed tension to really bring the storyline to life. You’ll immediately know the who, the what and for the most part the why but the actual beginning of the blackmail that begins during their time in the military is completely unspoken of. Plenty of crime TV-series pull off more detailed and complicated plots than Triple 9 while still providing a backbone to the storyline so this lack has been a disappointment.
As for additional content on the blu-ray, you’ll be even more disappointed because there simply is none. A behind-the-scenes feature along with a short documentary on the Triple 9 code and what it means to police officers would have been a great addition to a film that does not deliver.
Triple 9 is a film that you should watch once and never see it again due to its terrible plot-building and the lack of tension. The plot is simply laid out far too fast and a backbone to the story is completely missing, giving the viewer the sense of jumping straight into the middle of the film. Unfortunately this whole ordeal is causing the actors to seem like they are under performing while in fact their performance is more than okay. The action sequences on the other hand are great, if not over-the-top, making it an action-packed film.