A crew of bank-robbers and corrupt police officers are enlisted by the Russian-Jewish mafia to pull off an incredibly difficult heist. Their plan, to kill a police officer as a diversion and force a ‘triple 9’ police call-out. While the entire police force is out to cover the triple 9 call, the robbers are given their opportunity to pull off the heist.
Triple 9 is reminiscent of more superior cop dramas like Heat, but doesn’t quite meet the same standard. It’s mainly due to the lack of character development which in turn could be due to the large number of characters. While we get a glimpse into the lives the film’s protagonists, not enough time is given to each one so that the audience has someone to root for (as well as to root against). Subsequently the film suffers from a lack of a superior villain, as the entire cast of characters have some villainy in them.
The film has an all-star cast featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie and Woody Harrelson to name a few. Each cast member is on point in their roles. A cast such as this is enough to warrant a viewing of the film, it’s just too bad the film feels like a b-grade cop film. All the usual cop-film tropes are there, however what separates this film is twists and turns in the plot. There are some points where you can figure out what’s coming next, until the unexpected occurs. This fact generally makes up for any of the film’s shortfalls.
Australian director John Hillcoat of The Road and Lawless fame, really hits the mark on grittiness in this film. It’s shot in a way that pulls you into the world and the pace of the film keeps you intrigued all the way through. There is violence aplenty and no character is safe from harm in the world he’s created. The only thing it’s missing is some originality.
Triple 9 is a derivative action-drama that meets the entertainment standards a film such as this is expected to deliver, but ultimately it had the potential to be a lot more. A cast such as this could’ve attributed to an amazing film, but rather we are given a by-the-numbers film that could’ve just as easily come out direct to video. Thankfully, the twists and turns along with the dark and gritty style justify some of the issues with the film.
Casey Affleck is chewing gum in about every scene.