Triple 9 (15)

John Hillcoat assembles an impressive cast in his first film since Lawless - did it all come together, or is it a bit of a hot mess? Mark Tam went to find out.

7th March 2016

Triple 9 follows a crew of dirty cops, both former and current, executing multiple heists in a gun-infested and politically corrupted city of Atlanta, Georgia. This American crime thriller revolves around a crew of five ex-military and current/former police force officers. Throughout the film, the crew face many internal conflicts with their own respective members as well as heavy threats from the Russian mafia, who are also the ones that have hired them for their missions.

Movie writer Matt Cook throws in a twist of elements where the crew is consisted of members who have strong ties and familiarity with the police system and that they must initiate a 999 (or ‘Triple 9’ for short which is essentially taking down one of their own, a police officer. It is through the 999 that the classic criminal-based protagonist crew attempt to execute a virtually impossible heist of stealing classified information for their Russian mafia bosses.

Given its $20 million budget and its wide range of talent such as Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, there were high expectations for the film to succeed as a high rated box office thriller. The original casting included Shia LaBeouf among the lead protagonists before he left the project and was replaced by Charlie Hunnam, known for his performance in Pacific Rim, who would go on to also leave the project. Eventually, Casey Affleck would take the role of the police officer featured in the film.  With this line-up for casts of the film, there was no doubt that there’s top-notch talent at hand. There were expectations that the stellar casting of Woody Harrelson, Norman Reedus, Anthony Mackie and Chiwetel Ejiofor would make this one of the most impressive ensemble crime dramas ever made.

"The film highlights the significance of family and group bonds but does not spend a significant amount of time developing such relationships"

However, the film doesn’t live up to such high expectations for the cast and brings up the question of what more could have been done. The utilization of the film’s popular and talented cast was inefficient as there was weak connectivity with the characters throughout the film. Each actor and actress performed their best with the characters they portray. Unfortunately, that proves to be the main questionable element of the film: everyone has their own story going on. This proves to be its upside and downside as the film’s divided story segments strangely deliver multiple visual and auditory appeals with the audience. There is consistent entertainment and complexity delivered while at the same time uncertainty and questions arise as the story continues.

There is uncertainty that blooms throughout the film as grows unclear whether or not the film suggests that relationships matter. The film highlights the significance of family and group bonds but does not spend a significant amount of time developing such relationships. This makes it questionable if a theme of loyalty and camaraderie is significant and the impact of betrayal isn’t as powerful as the director and writer would want it to be. 

Fortunately, the film was able to showcase itself as an overall decent film that won’t bore you with its delightful suspense and solidly-crafted ‘cop-on-cop’ action.

Rating: 8/10

More like this: End of Watch (2012)

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