It’s curiosity that drove me to this cinema theater to watch Triple 9. I did not know what is Triple 9 but more than that I was curious about what has the director, John Hillcoat, done with such a talented cast. The cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Clifton Collins Jr. and Kate Winslet as the head of Russian Mafia in the city Atlanta, Georgia.
The film has a promising start with a brilliant bank robbery scene. The robbers include some dirty cops, some dirty ex- cops and their kin. This group or crew is controlled by the Russian mafia having Irina(Kate Winslet) as its head. She wants some documents that are stored safely in the Homeland Security Department Lockers to ensure the release of her husband who is imprisoned by Putin in Russia. Irina’s sister (Gal Gadot) has a son with Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is apparently the leader and the mastermind of the crew. Irina controls Michael by keeping his son in confinement and in that way she controls the whole mixed crew. In the first robbery, the crew has only managed to get a key. Irina needs them to perform the second robbery in the Homeland Security Building to get the suitcase with the documents. She blackmails the crew and they agree to do what she wants but for that purpose they will have to manufacture code Triple 9. This code simply means an ‘officer down’. The crew comfortably decides to take down a new officer, Chris (Casey Affleck), who is the new partner of Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and when the entire force rushes to the scene they will perform the robbery. Though it’s hard to believe in the given situation that this city has some good cops too but it comes out that Chris and his uncle Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson) who is heading this investigation are two of the good cops.
Predictably, things go awry and the corrupt people deceive each other when hard time takes them to test. In the end, going with the tradition, good triumphs over evil. In flashes, the director has tried to show the inner conflicts of the characters with the questions of ethics and morality. But these scenes are not effective and serve no purpose in taking the story further.
The story is absent so the screenplay is loose with large holes with a capital O. To give the film a real, raw and menacing look, it is shot primarily without enough light and with shaky and jerky camera work. But it falls flat. If there are no characters that you feel for, any technique can’t help. Dialogues are devoid of any punches. The actors, probably best lot with potential in the current generation, are totally wasted. Woody Harrelson shines in this artificially dark film and rest of them seem misplaced or uninterested. How can you love or even hate a character if it’s not properly sketched? So finally one becomes disinterested and it doesn’t matter whether someone kills or is being killed.
So, finally, when my curiosity is satisfied, it doesn’t matter at all. I am not satisfied.
You can watch the Trailer here