Let’s get this out of the way at the start- Triple 9 is unashamedly a genre movie, it is a film about crooked cops that features Russian gangsters and lines of dialogue like ‘This ain’t a game man, this is the fucking streets.’ It makes no qualms about what it is and is surprisingly, all the better for it.
Director John Hillcoat has assembled himself quite the cast for the movie- Kate Winslet is a hoot playing a Russian crime boss, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, and Arran Paul play a bunch of criminals, whilst Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck play straight laced cops trying to figure exactly what the hell is going on.
The plot is straight-forward enough- Ejiofor leads a gang of criminals who pull off heists, except two of these criminals, Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins, also happen to be cops assigned to their own case. The gang are under pressure from Kate Winslet’s Irina to pull off one last heist and they decide the only way they can do it undetected is to kill a cop, distracting the whole precinct and buying them enough time to pull off their task. The cop they decide to kill is Casey Affleck’s Chris Allen, a cop new to the force who also happens to be the nephew of the Sergeant Jeffrey Allen, played by Woody Harrelson.
Needless to say the story-line ticks off its fair share of cliches, and the script leaves a lot to be desired, but thanks to some stylish direction and some fun performances Triple 9 turns out to be a pretty fun ride from start to finish.
Hillcoat has borrowed straight out of the Michael Mann playbook here, his action scenes are heavy, and often very violent. The film features two stand out scenes in particular- the opening chase sequence is wonderfully crafted and jam packed with excitement, and a later scene where Affleck is in an abandoned building drips with tension. The film does fall apart somewhat in its closing phases and some would say that the film doesn’t earn the ending it gives, but for me it was a fun watch, a nice escape from the usual array of rubbish we are treated to this time of year.
It is by no means perfect, but it is an entertaining genre piece featuring some great set pieces, plenty of violence to spare and a handful of fun performances, a welcome surprise on the whole.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐