Triple 9 is what happens when one combines a great cast, interesting characters and an intriguing plot and gives none of them the chance to shine.
The film, directed by Australian John Hillcoat, had the potential to be an edge-of-your-seat, Scorsese-esque thriller.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the film-making process – whether it be the editing, the direction or even the final draft of the script – someone forgot that it’s not just the cast and the crew that need to understand the story, the audience does too.
That said, if you have the patience and the concentration to follow the complex relationships and motivations of the characters, Triple 9 is a brutal and entertaining dramatic thriller.
The film has no clear cut protagonist, but follows a group of criminals, including both corrupt cops and former servicemen, two relatively clean cops and the head of a Russian mafia chapter in Atlanta, Georgia.
The cast is intimidatingly good; Kate Winslet (The Dressmaker) is the mafia boss with fashion choices from the 1980s; Chiewtel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) is an unrepentant criminal with one goal; Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) is a quiet but determined bad guy; Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) is the unhinged addict; Anthony Mackie (Captain America) is the hardened street cop unafraid to cross criminal lines; Clifton Collins Jr (Pacific Rim) is the cold-blooded corrupt detective; Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) is the badge with a bone to pick; and Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) is the alcoholic police captain.
Gal Gadot (upcoming Wonderwoman) and Teresa Palmer (The Choice) also appear, but their characters are so underdeveloped that nothing would have been lost if they weren’t there.
The film features a daring heist, and tense and frankly disconcerting public shootout and lots of bad language.
It borrows much from films like The Departed, Heat and The Town, but also has its own unique set up – kill a cop, a Code 999, to buy more time for a heist. For a story with so much potential, its a shame the filmmakers were unable to pull it all together.
Regardless, Triple 9 is one of the first crime dramas to hit cinemas this year, and is a refreshingly dark story.
Triple 9 is rated MA15+ and is in cinemas now.