Cop thrillers are pretty run-of-the-mill. “Triple 9” was a bit more highly anticipated because it boasted such a large and talented cast, but it’s pretty average in terms of its action, story, cop thrills, and characters. There’s a lot going on in the film, with characters and story lines intersecting and converging. And while the film has its moments, it lacks a certain finesse and replaces good suspense with cheap thrills that fail to excite.
Dirty cops Marcus and Jorge (Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr.) are running bank heists with Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his gang of miscreants–everything they do ties back with the Russian mob, headed by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet). They’re all blackmailed to successfully complete a seemingly difficult and impossible heist, so that Irina’s husband can finally get out of jail and Michael can get his son and ex back (Gal Gadot). To pull off the heist, they have to create a triple nine situation–police talk for “officer down.” And they’ve targeted the new cop in town (Casey Affleck). But things take a surprising turn when the attack is foiled by one of their own.
“Triple 9” is not shy about its high-octane, fast-paced nature. In fact, it relishes it. It begins with a heist and ends with a heist, but it isn’t very solid on the rest. However, the threat is very real for all characters involved, and just when you think that everyone is safe, no one is. If nothing else, “Triple 9” at least delivers by way of making sure that promises of death are met. After all, this is the mob.
The film is lacking, not in its action or crime, but in its inability to make us care for the well-being of any of the characters. Whether one of them is murdered or has a change of heart, their motivations aren’t so well-rooted that you truly care. One can argue that this isn’t that kind of movie, and no one should expect there to be a lot of feelings, but it would have been nice to have something a little more concrete in terms of the relationships between the characters. The film is too busy jumping from one thing to the next that it forgets to take a breath and turns its attention toward the suspense.
“Triple 9” features a strong cast, which is why it’s a bit disappointing that the film ultimately dries up, instead of firing on all cylinders. There is a lot of violence and the typical threats thrown every which way, and for a large cast, writer Matt Cook finds a way to tie everything in, but the end result comes off flat and forgettable. Fans of the genre shouldn’t expect for the film to pack too much punch because the payoff is just average.
"Triple 9" features a strong cast, which is why it's a bit disappointing that the film ultimately dries up, instead of firing on all cylinders.