A group of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to buy their final heist some well needed extra time.
John Hillcoat, best known for directing the very underrated Lawless and The Road tells this story of dirty cops and dishonorable criminals starring an all star cast featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War), Casey Affleck (The Finest Hours), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim), Woody Harrelson (True Detective) and many more.
Opening with a thrilling and tense bank heist, Triple 9 sets off strong, but falters along the way due to poor pacing and obvious twists but the performances are all strong and the film ends on a high note in a finale that feels similar to that of Martin Scorsese's The Departed.
Triple 9 is a highly entertaining film and I was never bored throughout, I just became lost now and again due to the story wavering halfway through and becoming slightly too overloaded in subplots that I won't spoil. It's the unfocused plot that is Triple 9's downfall, halfway through there's a 20 minute gap in which nothing of major importance pushes the story forward and the narrative feels like it's on pause.
Hillcoat established a moody, grimy tone that fit the story perfectly and the characters with the majority of the screen time were engaging despite not being completely fleshed out. It's the protagonist characters that were handed the short straw as our criminals and dirty cops are given much more to do but that doesn't stop Casey Affleck who plays the cop the criminals plan to murder from delivering an impressive performance alongside Anthony Mackie and Chiwetel Ejiofor who were both fantastic in their roles as a corrupt cop and an ex special forces mercenary turned bank robber respectively.
Matt Cook's tough and macho script works for the majority yet feels a little heavy handed towards the beginning of the film when establishing the relationships between characters. Characters will refer to each other by relation to let us know how they're connected and it's in these moments where the dialogue felt rather unnatural, but once the characters are established this no longer becomes a problem.
Triple 9 explores familiar themes of brotherhood, fallibility and criminals pulling off "one last job" but the film never attempts to be anything more than a conventional film done well, what it does do it does well for the most part. The action is tense, the characters are engaging and the performances are great, I recommend seeing Triple 9, not because it's anything new, but because it's a straight forward and entertaining heist thriller despite its flaws.