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Triple 9 Review

So it was the Cineworld Unlimited Screening last night and out of all the films speculated to be playing (including the much anticipated Deadpool and Concussion) turns out it was Triple 9 – a film that I’d not even seen a trailer for, let alone heard anything about…

Directed by John Hillcoat (The Road, Lawless) Triple 9 stars a fantastic cast including; Woody Harrelson, Gal Gadot, Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Casey Affleck, Norman Reedus, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Clifton Collins Jr. The film follows a crew who are blackmailed into doing ‘one last job’ for the Russian Mafia; they must execute a virtually impossible heist. So with such a great cast and an intriguing setup, what went so wrong?

Triple 9 opens with the crew robbing a bank to gain a safety deposit box for the Russians; however their getaway quickly spirals out of control when a dye package is activated inside the stolen money. With the sound of sirens quickly approaching, the crew are running out of time to find another vehicle to escape in. So far so good; a tense and thrilling start, but we then experience the first of many causalities – a civilian woman has been shot in the crossfire and is bleeding in the road. We only get a quick glimpse of the injured lady, but this shot quickly establishes the tone of the whole film; bleak and brutal.


We quickly discover the crew are comprised of ex-special forces and dirty cops; a fact that should be shocking, yet we’ve seen this storyline so many times it’s pretty clichéd. I was also surprised at how soon this fact was revealed, I felt the film could have had so much more impact if we had discovered this later down the line. However following this reveal I almost expected a police story with a twist, something along the lines of Scorsese’s The Departed – but I was so wrong!

Triple 9 mainly focuses on idealistic rookie cop Chris Allen (Affleck) who is partnered with crew member Marcus (Mackie) and quickly becomes the solution to the gang’s problems. They plan to pull off the heist by manufacturing a ‘999’ (police code for “officer down”); they will setup Allen’s murder and in turn get a 10 minute police free window to complete the heist for the Russians. However their plan starts to unravel when Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen (Harrelson) starts investigating crew member Gabe (Paul), which sparks a dark and brutal chain of events…

Regardless of the pretty spectacular cast, this film was, in all honesty, terrible. The script was horrendous (at one point Harrelson actually says the line “out-monster the monsters”) and there was no backstory whatsoever to actually flesh out the two-dimensional and stereotypical characters. There was also literally no one to root for at all, the only seemingly good guy was Chris Allen (Affleck) and throughout the whole entire film he wouldn’t stop chewing gum – it drove me mad! So when the body count starts racking up, it’s actually hard to care. But the real problem lay with the unforgiving brutality that was rampant throughout the entire film; severed heads, numerous shootings, gang wars, police brutality, a car boot full of gagged naked people – the list goes on. The dark nature was so unrelenting it really was a tough film to watch, let alone enjoy.


However it wasn’t truly terrible; Triple 9 was a very well shot film with some great action sequences. There were also some pretty impressive performances; Anthony Mackie was particularly good as the conflicted Marcus and Aaron Paul played tormented Gabe to a T. The themes the film chose to explore, predominantly gang conflicts and the gun problem in America, did work and were definitely thought provoking, yet I really didn’t understand what the film’s underlying message was supposed to be. It is a shame though, Triple 9 could definitely have worked, what without all the severed heads and all…