<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by John Hillcoat. Starring Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, Clifton Collins Jr, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot
Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Bad cops, drugs, gangs and guns should be enough to put you off going to places like Atlanta in America and it would seem that that’s all the land of the free has to offer us judging by what Hollywood has to offer.
A film that uses the formula that Hollywood is best at, Triple 9 is gritty and dark, but the violence, guns, American bravado and thick accents are all things we’ve seen before. We’re not impressed or surprised by corrupt cops wanting to kill each other and Triple 9 gives us no surprises even in the double crosses that it depicts.
Triple 9 starts off with a bank heist that’s interestingly executed with a little twist: the robbers are cops and ex-military men working for a Jewish Russian cartel lead by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet). We don’t really know what has driven these men into this situation apart from the fact that one of them has a kid with Irina’s sister Elena (Gal Gadot) and he doesn’t want his son harmed. Of course, there’s the money, but that’s not really a surprising or interesting motive.
Casey Affleck is the good cop who has to partner up with one of the bad cops (Anthony Mackie) and gets caught up in their little gang war. Casey’s partner is a piece of chewing gum that he chomps on through the duration of the film. His mouth is constantly in motion, distracting you from anything else he does by way of acting. The gum has lots of screen time too as he moves it around over his lips and then sideways and up and down. I don’t know if this was meant to give him so attitude or assist in the thick south accent but it’s annoying beyond belief.
Is America just about cops and guns and gangs? Looks that way from what Hollywood shows us in film after film. Surely not something that helps tourism.
The bad cop gang have to execute another heist for their Russian masters and they must plan to kill a cop so that the police register a ‘999’, which is an ‘officer is down’ code that leads all the cops in the city to that location leaving all other targets open. You’d think the cops wouldn’t fall for that one.
Kate Winslet is unrecognisable as the Russian cartel boss’s wife who runs the show now. Her accent looks like she’s just shown up on set and is doing the best she can to portray a Russian criminal. What Gal Gadot is doing in the movie we can’t really tell. And even though Woody Harrelson – as Casey Affleck’s uncle who heads a special crime force – is in good form playing the drugged out cop who is tough on crime, his story isn’t given any time and doesn’t really gel with the rest of the film. They try doing a The Departed with the finale and fail miserably.