Remember the Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood? It had everything; great visuals, great cast, great costume design, great everything except… it was a bit shit.
If you were to believe the recent adverts on TV you would believe that this is a 21st century classic and like Robin Hood it does have a lot going for it but Triple 9 falls into mediocrity similar to Scott’s 2010 retelling.
One thing it does have going for it is a great cast. I think Anthony Mackie is excellent and have done so ever since I first saw the Adjustment Bureau and Triple 9 only solidifies that belief. You then have Chiwetel Ejiofor who was deservedly Oscar nominated for being whipped for 2 straight hours in 12 Years A Slave.
This is enough to fill a movie in its own right but Triple 9 also has to squeeze in Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet… oh and Gal Gadot.
It sounds easier to squeeze Bigfoot into a tutu rather than give each of the above relevant screen time but Triple 9 balances each cast member adequately by firmly and wisely relegating some of the cast to supporting roles.
With the exception of Gal Gadot who is purely there to wear skimpy outfits and make male audience members revert into stupid one-dimensional cave men (not that I sat I sat there thinking “duurrghh. Woman. Hot!”… honest!?) none of the above cast ever feels left out. However, there are still a lot of characters who need back stories and motivations fleshed out and there simply isn’t enough room to do this.
The most obvious is Kate Winslet who plays the wife of a mob boss who pulls strings but we never find out who she is, to what extent she is involved, how she met the others, why she is pulling strings, who the mob boss is and how powerful or important is he.
Thankfully you don’t feel let down by the story but it’s just not as good as its cast and therefore has to rely on the film’s style to pull it through. In this respect it’s clear that director John Hillcoat has taken inspiration from various sources but this leaves a slightly incoherent vision of what the film is trying to be.
The moment you see Affleck and Mackie in a car it is hard not to think of Training Day. Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus play incredibly similar characters to their infamous TV counterparts. When someone dies you get the nostalgia for Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and the plot seems to unfold similar to the likes of Taken.
That said, it is a well produced film. It contains enough plot twists and action to keep you entertained even through moments of deja-vu. If Triple 9 had kept its storyline a bit more concise and paid a bit more attention to why things were happening then it might have been the modern classic the adverts proclaim it to be.
As it is; the story is just OK, its style is just OK and its use of a great cast is ultimately just OK. In other words it’s triple average.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Great cast
+ Decent production
+ Entertaining enough
– Overall vibe feels confused
– Plot not fleshed out well enough
– Could be more concise