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Triple 9 Movie Review

Triple 9 (2016) movie poster Triple 9

Theatrical Release: February 26, 2016 / Running Time: 115 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: John Hillcoat / Writer: Matt Cook

Cast: Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Clifton Collins Jr. (Jorge Rodriguez), Norman Reedus (Russel Welch), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen), Michael K. Williams (Sweet Pea), Gal Gadot (Elena), Woody Harrelson (Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov)

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The third American film from Australian director John Hillcoat, Triple 9 tells of dirty Atlanta cops who perform criminal acts. The film's opening scene sees a group of four masked men robbing a bank at gunpoint, with help from an accomplice on the outside.
Two of the men, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Jorge Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.), go from the crime scene to their other jobs, as beat and homicide police detectives. The heist's mastermind, Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), delivers the take to some Russian Jews and their sharp-dressed boss, Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), the sister of Michael's young child's mother (imminent Wonder Woman Gal Gadot). Irina demands another job from the team, which also includes not long for this world driver Russel Welch (Norman Reedus) and his brother, disheveled hard-drinking former cop Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul).

As for clean cops, we meet two. The first is Marcus' new partner, Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), who is transferred to snickers from "Zone 2" and provides the film with its moral center. The other is his relative, sergeant detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), a detestable mess of a man who donates to black supremacists on the street and smokes joints he finds in seized garbage bags.

Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) meets with his sister-in-law (Kate Winslet), a Russian Jewish mob boss, in "Triple 9."

Triple 9 is a dark, gritty, seedy film. There is a lot of blood and murder and violence. Latino gangsters are roughed up and exchange gunfire. Michael Kenneth Williams plays a transgender call girl. Hardly a smile is cracked.

Undoubtedly, some fine films have been made about criminals and their fascinating gray moral codes and easily tangled allegiances.
This is not one of them. This is a long two hours of bleakness, with no sympathy to share and no redemption in sight. You see some twists coming before the movie serves them up. And they're not very good twists either. The cast delivers outbursts and profanity convincingly enough but without the weight you'd see in a better movie released in the fall.

Hillcoat fared much better on his previous crime film, the Prohibition Era drama Lawless. His steamy direction here (the movie seems to model itself after the overrated Training Day) is less to fault than the hopeless, half-baked feature debut screenplay by Matt Cook, from which the accomplished cast can work no wonders.

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Related Reviews:
Directed by John Hillcoat: Lawless The Road | Now in Theaters: Hail, Caesar! | New to Disc: Secret in Their Eyes
Sicario Eastern Promises Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans State of Grace Brooklyn's Finest
Casey Affleck: Gone Baby Gone | Anthony Mackie: Gangster Squad | Aaron Paul: Need for Speed
Woody Harrelson: No Country for Old Men | Chiwetel Ejiofor: Dirty Pretty Things Salt | Clifton Collins Jr.: Transcendence

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Reviewed February 26, 2016.

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