Heist based movies are a hard bag of tricks to arrange correctly. It is difficult to create a heist film that has originality and still lives within the walls of the genre. For the most part, these kinds of films play out the same way cops and robbers did when you played it as a kid. The same story, with a slightly different ending, depending on what friend you are playing with.
“Triple 9” is exactly one of those heist movies. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable.
This gritty heist movie, follows a group of dirty cops who do jobs for the Russian mob. The ability to go from bank robber to cop is a camouflage that nobody sees coming and works wonders for these dudes. When they are eventually blackmailed by Russian mob leader Irina Vlaslov, (Kate Winslet) they are suddenly forced to pull off an impossible heist that they are not prepared for.
They decide that in order to pull off this heist successfully that they need to initiate a “999” (police code for, officer down) in order to make all the cops in the city turn their eyes away from their heist.
Director, John Hillcoat does manage to pull off a gritty world with believable performances. There must have been a memo that went out during production that said “everybody (except Anthony Mackie and Chiwetel Ejiofor) need to look their absolute worst. And boy, do they Aaron Paul, Woody Harrelson, Clifton Collins Jr and Casey Affleck go out of their way to look disheveled as possible. For a movie like this one, that instruction turns out to be a good move. The look of everyone involved becomes a perfect match for the dirty atmosphere of the film. These aren’t the good guys and that is made clear in every aspect of their characters.
This movie has a phenomenal cast. It is insane how average the movie is in its entirety, when thinking about the actors that were included. This is a result of a disjointed script that pulls the audience in too many direction with too many characters to develop. While Affleck is the gooey warm moral center of the film it also tries to make the Chiwetel Ejiofor (one of the bank robbers) into another protagonist. It is almost like the screenwriter found out who was going to be in the movie and compensated that fact with script re-writes.
“Triple 9” is a disjointed and not at all a perfect heist movie along the lines of “Heat,” (which kinda sets the bar for heist movies, in my opinion) but it does still manage to be an entertaining ride that offers a few surprises along the way. Everybody on screen does their absolute best with what the script offers them and that is never a bad thing.