"Triple 9" is directed by John Hillcoat and it stars the enormous cast of Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie, Norman Reedus, Clifton Collins Jr., Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Michael K. Williams, Teresa Palmer, and Gal Gadot. The plot is that a group of both criminals and corrupt cops are being blackmailed by the Russian Mob into performing a heist which involves a 999 incident which is essentially an Officer Down scenario. As expected, things don't go exactly as planned and what follows is a movie that has a lot going on, but it doesn't fully live up to all of its potential.
This movie has a huge cast of very talented actors and for the most part, all of them did a good job in their roles. Casey Affleck is pretty much the main character and he was able to anchor down the role of a rookie cop who's right in the middle of this group of criminals and their plan. The likes of Anthony Mackie and Chiwetel Ejiofor are also really good in playing much more dark and grounded characters than they're use to, and Aaron Paul also manages to give a strong performance even if it's somewhat reminiscent of the Jesse Pinkman mold he's trying to break. The two performances that I found to be a bit questionable, however were surprisingly from veteran actors Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet. Harrelson's character felt like a cartoon more than anything else in the movie and it's more of a knock towards the writing, but I can't deny that his performance did come off like he was overreaching in some points. Winslet is almost unrecognizable in her role, but what doesn't bode so well is the awful accent she has. In all honesty, she looked completely bored in this movie, but I won't go too hard on her since most of the other performances were very strong and made up for her and Harrelson.
As far as the heist aspect goes, this movie's first half is actually fairly good and I liked how it was all playing out. The planning of the heist and the build up was good, seeing all of the cast get together and interact was interesting, and even the heist itself was an intense scene that had moments of well filmed action and even suspenseful sequences that belong in a movie like this. If for nothing else, the first half of this movie is worth watching given everything that goes on and all that's built up, but there comes a point in the middle of the movie where it feels like a new writer took over for the second half and what results is a paint-by-numbers, sloppily written heist drama.
What makes the second half so sloppy is that with every twist and turn in the story, you either see the "surprises" coming a mile away, or the twist is too confusing and you spend way too much time thinking on how it makes sense and where it fits into the context of previously established ideas in the movie. It's bad enough when just one predictable plot twist doesn't make any sense, but when you have twist after twist thrown into the movie for the sake of the writer trying to be clever, that's when you need to assess just how bad the movie's writing is. In this case, the writing made this movie way more convoluted than it needed to be .
Another problem with how this movie plays out in the second half is once again in the writing, but this time it has more to do with characters than twists and turns. Some of the characters were a bit cartoony to begin with, but now we have characters who makes decisions that are borderline Lloyd Christmas levels of idiotic. These criminals and dirty cops are portrayed in the first half as legitimate, hardcore, and professional robbers who are capable of dealing with any situation, but once again the second half rears its ugly head and has the characters making dumb decisions because the script says so. No spoilers here, but look at the decision making in this movie as such: Think of a scenario in which you've either just found out someone is coming to kill you, or you've been double-crossed. Now think of the worst possible solution to said problems. Yeah, that solution is pretty much implemented in this movie and it's embarrassing to watch.
"Triple 9" is a well acted movie that starts out strong in its first half, but the second half kicks in and all of the potential gets flushed down the cinematic toilet for a basic story of revenge and double-crossing that gets more and more convoluted with each passing plot twist. This film truly feels like two different movies and I personally can't send you out to see it if you want a cohesive narrative. You want to see a cool heist with some entertaining action set pieces? Go right ahead, but this movie doesn't finish off with anything more than that.