A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.
Remember when John Hillcoat’s The Road was snubbed at the Academy Awards? It’s only a short time since Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kate Winslet were grabbing Oscar and BAFTA statuettes while Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus were picking up, and nominated, for Emmys and Saturns. Then Hillcoat’s Triple 9 arrives. Packaged as a taught thriller, with dirty cops and sincere thieves, Triple 9 mixes a pot of terrific talent and seems to overcook the brew. Something is missing and the fast-action plot clearly forgot to include a meaningful story, reducing the offering to an easily dismissed, rough ride, with little to champion when the credits roll.
Triple 9 opens as corrupt cops conduct a heist, with a stylistic visual flourish as red-paint bursts open mid-getaway. Guns are shoved in faces and money’s dragged off a shiny counter and into a sports bag. Pseudo-disguises, with a little edge (sunglasses on a balaclava) but nowhere near as memorable as The Dark Knight, The Town and Heat. New guy, Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) joins the team “from Zone 2”, and he’s paired up with cop-thief Marcus Atwood (Anthony Mackie). Soon realising that most police – including his Uncle (Woody Harrelson) – are all a little sneaky, Allen can hold his own in this macho environment. But Uncle Woody is all we have, and after some posturing and bold statements, it is clear that he’s a conflicted decent guy, of sorts. Leading the heist crew, Terrell Tompkins (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is in a bind as he desperately wants to be with his son, a child who is for all intents and purposes, kidnapped by Russian wife-of-the-boss Idrina (Kate Winslet). Her sister, Tompkins former lover and mother of his child, is played by up-and-coming Wonder Woman Gal Gadot – an actress who couldn’t look less like Kate Winslet.