“TRIPLE 9” Review
Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Matt Cook
Triple 9 starts out with a question: What is a Triple 9? For the uninitiated, a Triple 9 is police code for “officer down,” and essentially diverts the majority of the force from any other activity so they can rush to the scene. And that’s exactly what our group of crooks will bank on to pull off a desperate and difficult heist.
Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Matt Cook, the story of Triple 9 revolves around a group composed of dirty cops and ex-military men led by Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an ex-Special Forces who shares a son with Elena (Gal Gadot), the sister of Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet). Irina is the head of a Russian-Israeli mob, which makes Michael’s custody battle for his son quite excruciatingly difficult.
After a heist that they were able to pull off in broad daylight, Irina asks the group to do another job to assist the release of her husband Vasili from prison. After Michael resists, he gets himself and his group the proper motivation to go through with the job after Irina has Russel (Norman Reedus), Michael’s mate back in Special Forces, suffocated with a plastic bag inside his own car—which essentially translates to a very short role for him in the film.
The group then proceeds to discuss how they are going to pull off the heist without getting too much trouble from the force. Cops Jorge Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) suggest they do a Triple 9, which means that they need to kill one of their own to pull off the heist. Russel’s brother, Gabe (Aaron Paul, who once again channels his Breaking Bad character’s impulsive, damaged, guilt-ridden, methed up persona) is heavily against the plan (he turns out to be an ex-cop), but nevertheless concedes to the majority.
Enters Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), a transfer cop who gets partnered with Marcus. He turns out to be incorruptible and becomes the perfect target for the group’s plan. His mentor and uncle, Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), also gets thrown into the mix after he becomes the head of the team that investigates the previous heist the group has made.
For a film that has an all-star cast, Triple 9 falls short on quite a number of things. There’s not much character development and even Gal Gadot’s character is reduced to just a pretty face that shows up on screen from time to time. Chris’ wife, Michelle (Teresa Palmer), barely has any presence on screen, and her only memorable moment was a buttock shot. In fact, the shot was too dark, some people wouldn’t even recognize that it’s Teresa Palmer until you reach the end credits.
The pace of the film seems rushed, and some viewers might exit the theater with more questions that can never really be answered. For one, there is absolutely no mention how Michael has got involved with Elena and the Russian-Israeli mob or how their group was formed in the first place. Likewise, it’s quite incomprehensible why Kate Winslet’s character has to speak in English when her husband explicitly speaks to her in Russian. Rather strange, language-wise.
Fans of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead might notice some obvious references to the aforementioned shows, whether it may be intentional or not. Not to spoil anything here, but you’ll pick it up pretty easily if you’re a fan of either show.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a gritty action film about people with questionable morals and loyalty, then this film might take the cake. Also, you might want to check your backseat when you get in the car after seeing it. You never know.
American crime thriller drama film Triple 9 is now showing in Philippine cinemas via OctoArts Films International.