May 22, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: TRIPLE 9

Starring Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Edjiofor, Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr., Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer, Norman Reedus, Luis Da Silva. Directed by John Hilcoat. (2016, 115 min).

Triple 9 is cut from the same cloth as Heat and The Town. While not quite as memorable as either, it's an entertaining and exciting way to kill two hours.

An Atlanta heist crew, consisting of former Navy SEALS and corrupt cops, is hired by a Russian mob, led by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), into committing a bank robbery to steal a safe deposit box which has information that can free her husband, the actual mafia boss. But instead of getting paid, Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Edjiofor) and his crew are extorted into committing a second heist even more dangerous than the first. In fact, it seems impossible to pull-off until Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.), one of the corrupt cops, suggests killing a fellow officer, then calling it in over the radio as a Code 999 (meaning an officer is down), allowing them time to do the job while Atlanta's police force converges on the shooting location.

Meanwhile, Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is a cop reassigned to the precinct run by his grizzled uncle, Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson). His new partner, Marcus (Anthony Mackie), is also a member of Atwood’s crew and decides Allen’s the perfect target; with his nephew down, Jeffrey would send every cop at his disposal to the scene. So Marcus instructs a local gang leader to do the hit, making it look like Allen was killed in the line of duty.

"I did it just like you said...neutralize the witnesses and interview the suspect."

While I serious doubt a major city’s entire police force would actually drop everything to respond to one call (even if it did involve a cop killing), it’s an interesting premise that we mostly buy into while watching. Triple 9 is structurally similar to Heat and The Town: an initial perfectly-executed robbery, followed by a lot of character exposition and planning leading up to the climactic heist attempt. The action is suitably kinetic, gritty and violent. A few nifty plot twists keep things interesting, even if we sometimes see them coming.

We also learn quite a bit about the major characters on both sides of the law, and for the most part, the performances serve them well, especially Mackie as Marco and Ejiofor as Michael; though two of the film’s many villains (the film is loaded with them), neither descend into pure despicability. On the other hand, Harrelson acts like he’s channeling the ghost of Tallahassee from Zombieland, while Winslet seems a bit out of her element as a ruthless mob leader. As for fans of prominently-billed Norman Reedus...try to enjoy the few minutes he’s actually onscreen.

Ultimately, Triple 9 does not reach the epic heights of the classic heist movies which obviously inspired it, but it’s fast-paced and entertaining, perhaps even worth taking in more than once. More-or-less ignored in theaters, the impressive cast and bursts of action make it well worth checking out at home.


  • 2 Featurettes: "Under the Gun" & "An Authentic World" (both are very short promotional interviews with cast & crew members).
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Digital Copy


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