‘Triple 9’ Collapses Under Weight of Its Own Star

Sidney Butler
Triple 9, a new film directed by John Hillcoat, follows a group of corrupt police and criminals as they are blackmailed by the Russian mafia.

It’s shocking and slightly embarrassing when a group of successful A-list actors get together and make a bad movie. Such failure has happened before, with “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve” and “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” but they’re less of a let down because they function more as guilty pleasures. In the case of “Triple 9,” a thriller that’s clearly trying to deliver, an A-list letdown is hard to watch.

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck, just to name a few, the film revolves around a crew of five men who set out to murder Chris Allen (Affleck), a cop, in order to pull off an impossible heist for the Russian mob, which is run by Irina Vlaslov (Winslet). The stakes are high as Ejiofor’s son’s life is in the hands of the mob, and his ex-wife is sisters with Irina, though their past relationship is never fully explained. The plan doesn’t go  over very smoothly, causing for a convoluted mess of revenge plots to make up the second half. The plot plays out as a mediocre “Ocean’s 11mixed with the forced intensity of a “Fast and Furious” installment. Filled with unnecessary and jarring violence, “Triple 9” tries to portray the brutal reality of the police force but in doing so alienates its audience.

“Triple 9” is a crime thriller that should succeed based on its star-studded ensemble alone. It really should be a guaranteed box office hit, but the clunky and sporadic storytelling leaves viewers anxious and unfulfilled. The bad guys are against the bad guys and even some of the good guys are bad guys, and that’s just the half of it.

There are some surprising performances from Ejiofor and Anthony Mackie, as the two play more aggressive roles than usual. However, the way the story unfolds creates more confusion than answers. Screenwriter Mat Cook doesn’t provide any explanation as the story progresses, causing a lack of empathy for any of the violence that occurs.

Filled with intense action, horrible accents and convoluted storylines, the film is nothing short of an utterly explosive mess. It still seems unfathomable to think that so many accomplished and excellent actors signed on to such a poor movie, particularly one that refuses to answer many of the questions it poses. It had all the right ingredients––stars, suspense and character depth–– that just never quite came together. Consisting of the stereotypical heist, mafia boss, dirty cops and kidnapped child, “Triple 9” tries to pack in far more than it can handle, ultimately collapsing under its own weight.

“Triple 9” will be released in select theaters on Feb. 26.

Email Sidney Butler at [email protected]

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