Directed by John Hillcoat
Australian filmmaker, John Hillcoat, is known for sturdy crime thrillers where the violence usually plays a preponderant role.
Two of his first movies feature the acclaimed musician Nick Cave – screenplay and soundtrack in the spellbinding Australian western, “The Proposition”, and also in the macabre “Ghosts…of the Civil Dead” in which he also plays the main role.
In 2009, he managed to conquer the masses with the passable post-apocalyptic “The Road”, just to fail to impress with “Lawless”, his third collaboration with Nick Cave who adapted Matt Bondurant’s historical novel, ‘The Wettest County in the World’.
Hillcoat’s brand new film, “Triple 9”, can’t be compared to the ones mentioned in the early phase of his career for the simple fact that its approach is indistinguishable and complicated, regardless the sustainable script by Matt Cook that definitely deserved a different treatment, and a great ensemble cast that includes Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, and Clifton Collins Jr.
The narrative starts swiftly with a bank robbery in broad daylight perpetrated by an organized gang of five men - Michael (Ejiofor), Russell (Norman Reedus) and his brother Gabe (Paul), and two crooked cops, Marcus (Mackie) and Franco (Collins, Jr.). The gang operates for the Russian Mafia, under the orders of the merciless Irina Vlaslov (Winslet is even more attractive when not playing her usual sweet characters). After the accomplished first job, which consisted in retrieving a safe deposit box with sensitive information about a Russian Mafia boss, she refuses to pay the men, forcing them to a second job, even riskier than the first one. In order to get what she wants, she orders the death of Russell and blackmails Michael who, having a son with her sister, decides to persuade his mates to do the job and, this way, guarantee he’s going to keep seeing his child.
What they didn’t expect was that the incorruptible detective Chris Allen (Affleck) would be investigating the case, strongly backed up by his cool uncle Jeff (Harrelson), a tough Sgt. Detective who happens to be the most interesting and funniest character of the cast. Jeff loves his nephew, maybe as much as to smoke weed, and sporadically makes incredible speeches about the sixth sense of the cops.
Moving at a galloping speed but lacking emotional depth, “Triple 9”, saturated with grueling violence and addiction, dizzying speeding cars, and tedious shootouts, scantily shapes the underground schemes used by the international organized crime and the traditional bad cops vs. good cops. These mean streets and the guys who populate them aren’t explored with a consistent vision or exceptional intelligence. Therefore, skipping it won’t be an issue.