Triple 9 – Movie Review
Rating: C (Average)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures
With so many cop dramas cut from the same cloth, it becomes tricky for one to break out of its trappings and become unique in this genre. Triple 9 shows promise with its police detectives turned to crime, but it eventually ends up as a less exciting version of The Departed. The screenplay tries to divide time between all of its characters, but none of them prove to be compelling and the many subplots are written without much depth. To his credit, John Hillcoat does put together some solidly directed action scenes, but the audience has to wade through many amateurly written moments.
The biggest trouble with Triple 9 is its attempts to juggle the large ensemble of characters, many with double motives and their own little story-arcs. The least interesting of them all is Chiwetel Ejiofor dealing with the Israeli mafia. It’s a typical and clichéd character arc that provides the slowest portion of the film and its conclusion is ultimately anti-climactic. The gangsters are also flatly and stereotypically written with little depth or intimidation and Kate Winslet’s performance mostly consists of an accent and some glares. Casey Affleck presents the most intriguing character in Triple 9 as a policeman brought into this unit and unaware of the criminal lives let by a couple of his co-workers. Affleck displays a strong performance and gives the best attempt at crafting a well-rounded character. Even if these scenes feel like less inspired versions of similar scenarios in The Departed, Affleck livens them up a bit.
John Hillcoat has a better handle on the action scenes than he does the more dialogue driven portions. He directs the car chases with clarity and one sequence in an apartment complex is thrilling in its execution. One later scene where the alignment of certain individuals is more muddy also provides some genuine suspense. It’s a shame that so much of the rest of Triple 9 is not alike the million cop shows that air on network television every night. There’s little to be invested in the case, especially with the audience seeing the outcome a mile away. Not even Woody Harrelson doing his usual shtick can do much to enliven things up.
Despite taking place in Georgia, which is not the usual locale for police crime dramas, Hillcoat makes it look like almost every major metropolitan and suburbia. Without the license plates, one could mistakenly believe the film takes place in Chicago or Philadelphia. There’s simply a generic and derivative feel to the whole production. In addition to the aforementioned examples of The Departed and NBC cop shows, the other easy comparison to make is Elite Squad. One cannot help but think of both of Jose Padilha’s movies about police brutality in Brazil. The sequel, in particular, walked similar ground as Triple 9 with its corrupt policemen and did it in a more stimulating and original manner. The dialogue in Matt Cook’s screenplay merely rests on clichés and obvious plot points and contrivances.
Triple 9 brings nothing new to the cop drama table, with even its criminal cops plot done better and made more compelling elsewhere. Its ensemble gives the material a game try, but the script is lacking in much suspense and the dialogue is flat and wooden. John Hillcoat certainly brings his all to the action scenes, but it becomes tiring after a while hearing the same gun shots over and over again. There is a severe lack of originality or freshness in this film. If all one can think of while waiting for each dull scene to pass by are other superior films, then the film hasn’t succeeded in captivating the viewer.