On the upside, you will not see a worse movie in 2016 with this many great actors in the cast.
Triple 9 turned out to be a disappointing film for several reasons. First of all, Director John Hillcoat’s prior films were both stirring and entertaining. The Proposition (2005), which starred Guy Pearce and Emily Watson, is a wickedly offbeat film and Lawless, which featured Thomas Hardy, was one of the underrated films of 2012. In between, he made The Road (2009), a horrifying film about a father (Viggo Mortensen) who tried to save his young son from a zombie invasion.
But there is no question that Mr. Hillcoat lost his sense of perspective with Triple 9, which left me wondering how a film with a great cast ranging from Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Woody Harrelson could not succeed. You would think that this group could turn cinematic “Shit” into artistic “Shinola” through their efforts alone.
However, that sadly was not the case. The film plays out like a Quentin Tarantino-like movie. A Jewish/Russian mob, led by Ms. Winslet appearing with very bad hair, has backed a crooked group of American policemen to pull off heists at a major bank and the offices of Homeland Security. Things go wrong from the beginning, everyone gets anxious and then everyone dies. End of movie.
The movie’s title reflects a 999 call signaling an “officer down”. It was used by our dirty group of police officers who were willing to have a colleague killed to distract attention from their second heist. Clearly, this was not a group of thugs who were easy to root for.
Unfortunately, there were only two semi-likable characters in the entire movie, and those were two police officers played by Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson. While these were supposed to be the honest guys, Mr. Affleck appears in nearly every scene chewing a large piece of gum while Harrelson actively uses any pot or cocaine seized from suspects.
I kept wanting to see the extraordinarily talented Mr. Eijofor demonstrate the style and charm that Thomas Hardy displayed in Lawless, but it never occurred. While Ms. Winslet is never bad at anything she does, I thought it was ironic that she should appear as a stodgy Russian mob titan over the same weekend she was nominated for an Oscar in Jobs.
The only way that you should see this film is if you are in a dying personal relationship and can’t figure out a way to end it. Take him or her to see this movie and you will likely never talk to each other again.