Take some corrupt cops, a Russian mob, bank heists and Norman Reedus and what do you get? A film without Jake Gyllenhaal… but a bloody good one to be fair. There isn’t much to dislike about this film. The story is gripping and the action is tense (a word I’m starting to overuse but is no less true each time). I didn’t know too much about Triple 9 prior to watching it. I saw the trailer months ago when it came out, I had been looking up films Norman Reedus had been working on once I heard about the gem that is AIR, and luckily bumped into this one along the way. Good find, past Adam.
So what is it actually about? Well, I’ll tell ya. Gather round kids… I’m stalling I’m not sure what to say. I’ll just get on with it.
Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is forced to work a heist for Russian mob leader Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) when she uses his son, her nephew, against him. How that even happened in the first place… who knows. Don’t sleep with a mob members sister I guess. Gal Gadot performs the rather modest role of the child’s mother. The character doesn’t have much screen time but plays an important part in the set up of Atwood’s actions, and it’s this sort of touch that makes the film so real. A fantastic and high profile actress such as Gadot taking on a minor role is just as important as an underground newcomer being given a lead. John Hillcoat hasn’t gone for typical action and miraculous saves each time somebody could get themselves killed. I won’t give anything specific away, but the ‘nobody is safe’ theme is strong in Triple 9.
Much has to be said about Casey Affleck. In fact, the whole cast fell into their roles so naturally. For example, I only really know Anthony Mackie for his role as the loyal hero and friend to Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson (or the Falcon). In Triple 9 his character is the corrupt cop Marcus Belmont, who is quite the contrast to the Marvel hero. Aaron Paul falls victim to typecasting but for very good reasons. Personally, I don’t care for Breaking Bad as I found it to be slow and full of uninteresting characters with no personality… bare with me. Aaron Paul was undeniably the exception to this. His hauntingly convincing performances throughout even the darkest moments for Jesse displayed some of the best acting in television. Needless to say his talent carried nicely onto the silver screen. Paul’s friendship with Norman Reedus off-screen combined with the two actors talents gave their two characters such a natural brotherly chemistry. The characters are brothers by the way.
Casey Affleck is introduced later in the film. Chris Allen is transferred and paired with corrupt cop Belmont (Mackie). Two totally different cops with the opposite ideals. Naturally the two clash as partners leading to Chris’ high risk position becoming multiplied. When the Russian’s leave Michael with a seemingly impossible task the only way to pull off the heist is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. With Chris in the firing line, Belmont sets out the plan to lure him into a trap. I’ll leave that plot point there.
If you like tales of betrayal and corruption then Triple 9 doesn’t sell short. And who doesn’t like a good heist film? Not a masterpiece, but great at what it’s supposed to do. I give Triple 9 a 7/10.