Triple Nine (2016) - John Hillcoat
John Hillcoat's Triple 9 takes place on the mean streets of Atlanta, where a group of highly skilled thieves have just committed a successful heist for the Russian mob. The crew is a hodgepodge of ex-military and crooked cops, each of which has grown desensitized to morality, only looking out for themselves in this cruel environment which they inhabit. They think they are done, but when the Russian mob blackmails them into executing another even more complicated heist, the team decides that a manufactured 999, police code for "officer down" is the only way to create a big enough distraction away from the heist. The plan? Have one of their partners, an unsuspecting rookie, murdered by a gang member as a distraction, but unfortunately for this team of crooked cops, their unsuspecting rookie is more crafty than he appears. Triple Nine is the type of crime drama you've seen before, a tale of corrupted allegiances, double-crosses, gunplay, and cops and robbers which lives up to the age old adage that their is no honor among thieves. Featuring a loaded cast of quality actors, Triple 9 has its moments, but unfortunately the script is never capable of fully developing its characters, delivering a film with a few cool action set pieces and double-crosses but not much else. The main problem with Triple Nine is it never manages to create much pathos around its hardended characters, all of which are deeply flawed individuals. The film wants to capture the toll of this lifestyle on both the antagonists and protagonists of the story that in effect blurs the line between good and evil yet it never spends the time necessary to get into the psyche of its characters to effectively do so. We are told not shown how the lifestyle of these characters has led to a deteriorating sense of morality, how a cruel environment breeds this selfish, me, myself, and I mentality in these men. The problem isnt that these characters arent likeable, it's that they are uninteresting, with no real depth outside of what is stated. John Hillcoat's direction is solid, effectively shooting exciting action sequences and building tension. One of my favorite decisions is the use of the color red throughout the film, an eery reminder of the impending death and violence circling all these characters. While there are certainly aspects to like, Triple Nine is another rather disappointing American effort by the Australian filmmaker. Triple Nine is the type of film that isn't bad per se but just forgettable, a film that never differentiates itself from similar films of the genre, ending up feeling like a major missed opportunity when considering all the talent involved.
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