Review: Triple 9 (2016)

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John Hillcoat’s corrupt cop thriller boasts a talented cast, yet still manages to be a disposable misstep, weighed down by a messy, convoluted script. The film starts well, with a striking sequence involving a bank robbery establishing the various characters, five dodgy cops led by mastermind Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who are blackmailed into a risky heist by the Russian mafia. But as the crew put the plans into motion for their next heist, which involves killing a new officer (Casey Affleck) to create a vital distraction, Matt Cook’s script starts to lose its focus, unsure of which of the players to pivot the narrative around. As a result, there’s no one person to root for in a sea of underdeveloped faces, most of which are played by actors who are better than the material they’re handed. Anthony Mackie and Woody Harrelson are the particular stand-outs, but they’re constantly limited in what they can do. The tone is wildly uneven and the somber, shaky direction without a second of nuance. Triple 9 has the odd burst of drive (the man down call sparks a police car frenzy), and the score is dramatic where the narrative isn’t, but it’s all quickly forgotten.

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