Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.
With an all-star ensemble cast attached along with a lot of hype coming into 2016, Triple 9 already has a lot to live up to. So how does the latest
film from John Hillcoat - known for thrillers such as Lawless and The Road - stack up against some of the crime genre greats?
Triple 9 starts off with a bang, as four fully armed, masked-men led by ex-special forces operative Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are
gearing up for a job. The three men sitting beside him - his current brothers in arms - include two current - albeit very dirty - cops; Marcus
(Anthony Mackie), Jorge (Clifton Collins Jr.) and former officer Gabe (Aaron Paul) along with his older brother - the team's
wheelman and old special forces friend of Michaelís - Russel (played by Norman Reedus).
The team are swift, smart and highly trained as they hit their target - a bank - with flawless execution - itís clearly not their first rodeo - as they hunt their
prey within this armoured fortress - a particular safety deposit box - which they quickly locate after threatening the bank manager with photos of his loved ones.
The jittery Gabe, tempted by the piles of cash stacked up inside the vault throws a few in the bag along with their metallic prize; a decision that proves
eventful as the four make their escape in a planted getaway car - closely followed by Russel directing their movement. The bag explodes expunging the dye pack
all over the armed robbers, choking up their small car within seconds and leaving them blind, barrelling down the freeway. After an explosive car swap in
a piled up freeway, the four successfully make their escape albeit with some harsh words and threats for Gabe.
Investigating the robbery is Sgt Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) who is suffering from more vices than the criminals he catches. But with a
wiley head on his shoulders and seemingly storied history on these rough streets, itís clear he knows his way around a case and acutely aware of the military
co-ordination displayed within this robbery. His son - Chris played by Casey Affleck - however is facing his first day on the job on the force, a married
father and military veteran fresh off a recent tour that is yearning for more action.
Unfortunately - and much to his dismay - he is partnered up with Marcus who is ordered to Ďshow him the ropesí in this downtrodden and lethal city.
Michael meanwhile is looking to get paid in exchange for their recent score, only the employer - the Russian mob - has other ideas in mind. This Russian outfit headed by Irina
(Kate Winslet) instead blackmails Michael and his crew, using the money owed and his son - who just so happens to be her own nephew - as a bargaining
The crew knowing this new target is more dangerous and highly problematic than any before, hatch a plan to commit a code Ď999í - the murder of a police
officer - in order to buy themselves more time whilst pulling off the robbery - Marcus has the ideal candidate in mind.
Triple 9 is unlike any crime movie - most films period in fact - in recent history, by that I mean there really is no main protagonist that
audiences will follow throughout or a story centered around, instead it feels more of a cast of characters playing out their own tale - heck, each of their stories could
easily be their own film - within this city, that happen to intersect with one another. Itís abundantly clear that writer Matt Cook has taken influences from
some of the great crime thrillers in recent history such as Heat, Training Day and The Departed, creating a story of grey heroes and flawed villains who are doing
terrible things but not without a spark of humanity, and coalesced them into his own gritty crime thriller classic.
Triple 9 does indeed contain many moving parts within its intricate, interwoven, twisting story - coupled with a lot of dialogue - and a 2
hour runtime that may indeed be too much to digest for some of the audience with its multiple threads of street gangs, mafia and dirty cops thrown at you in quick succession.
But itís all there for good reason, as the film moves towards a climax that brings together the cast of characters to produce a concoction of lethal consequences.
If itís action youíre looking for as a payoff, Triple 9 brings that too; sprinkled throughout are some intense scenes - like an injection in
your bloodstream - that will keep you on the edge of your seat against a backdrop that could mean death for any of these characters at any turn; all beautifully
filmed and met with some stalwart performances.
Triple 9 brings the goods, from excellent performances and a nuanced multi-layered story, with a whole cast of characters that will keep you
glued to your seat from the get go. Whilst some moviegoers may find the many slowburn facets Triple 9 offers harder to get behind, it more than
makes up for it with some intense memorable action sequences that make Triple 9 a must watch.
Triple 9 is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.