Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Film Review: Triple 9 (2016)

Triple 9 (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it never failed to entertain..."

A group comprised of criminals and corrupt cops plan on killing a cop in order to complete a daring heist...

Triple 9 is an interesting crime thriller. The plot doesn't really focus on a single character, so there's a lot going on. Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) leads a gang of criminals and corrupt cops on several heist. Although his crew seek riches, Michael is actually hoping to appease the Russian mafia so he can live happily with his son - who happens to be the nephew of the mob boss. Meanwhile, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), who is part of Michael's crew, is given a new partner – Chris Allen (Casey Affleck). When Michael is given a tough heist with limited options, the group devise a Triple 9 scenario – a scene where a cop is downed in order to buy time. Of course, Marcus nominates his new partner, but the group obviously run into trouble. It has quite a bit of story, to be honest. It all leads to a strong climax and ending.


I don't say this often about movies, but I think Triple 9 is part of the exception: this is a film that would have benefited from a longer runtime. Look at excellent crime films like The Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas, and Casino, and tell me what they all have in common – a lot of damn time. There are two distinct scenarios and a huge cast of characters in Triple 9, but not nearly enough time to fit it all perfectly. Some characters turn up hollow, others have some depth, but it doesn't feel balanced. At times, the film even feels a bit sloppy. There are moments in the narrative that could have provided some excellent character, but it's instead glossed over.

However, I didn't think Triple 9 was a bad film. In fact, I thought it was great. Although it left me yearning for me, the film managed to thoroughly entertain. There are great action scenes consisting of heists, shootouts, and a few chase sequences. The film is suspenseful and ominous, which often kept me at the edge of my seat. Hell, even some of the simple dialogue exchanges kept me on the edge. The story could have benefited from more character and detail, but it kept me engaged from beginning to end. I recently watched a horror movie called Anguish, which left me bored and distant because it lacked story. This film is quite the opposite. It had me hooked and it left me begging for more because it was so damn entertaining.

The film has an ensemble cast. As usual, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Anthony Mackie are great. Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus were also good. Michael K. Williams has a very small supporting role, but I always appreciate seeing him. Woody Harrelson does the whole 'I'm the crazy unhinged guy' thing again – and it's not bad. The film looks and sounds great. Triple 9 is written by Matt Cook and directed by John Hillcoat. For what it is, the direction and writing are fine. You get an engaging and suspenseful crime drama with a few twists and turns. I only wish there was a bit more, especially in terms of character development. It feels like there are a few gaps missing in this film due to the short runtime.

Overall, Triple 9 is an entertaining crime drama. The narrative can be overwhelming and the characters may be underwhelming, but it never failed to entertain and it kept me engaged from beginning to end. It's suspenseful, it's thrilling, and it features a great cast. If you love crime films like me, I think you'll enjoy Triple 9.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some nudity.

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