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article imageReview: ‘Triple 9’s cast is more than a triple threat Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 28, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Triple 9’ is one of the most thrilling heist movies to hit theatres in some time, capitalizing on its captivating cast to deliver a dark and concentrated crime drama.
The heist movie is a classic of the crime genre. The various opportunities it provides to blend action, drama and expectation can be very stimulating in the hands of the right director. Moreover, the inclusion of the perspective of the police investigating the robbery adds another layer of intrigue and chance for excitement. Combined with skilled performances, a strong script and well-choreographed action, filmmakers can create a compelling picture that effectively engages audiences from start to finish. Triple 9 is a striking example of everything going right.
It was meant to be one job followed by a big payout. The hand-picked five-man crew would use their knowledge of police and military procedure to pull off the perfect crime. But impulsiveness, greed and desperation doubles the required heists to complete their transaction and their numbers are diminishing with each passing day. However to successfully perform the second heist they may be forced to create a distraction by committing another abhorrent offence that will occupy authorities’ attentions. The good guys and bad guys live on both sides of the law, causing everyone to operate in a very murky grey area.
There arguably hasn’t been a heist movie this gritty and thrilling since Michael Mann’s Heat, released more than 20 years ago. In spite of their partnership, trust and likeability are coming to be in short demand as the complexity of their roles increase. In addition, each man is trying to deal with personal issues as well as the pressures of their more legitimate careers. They’re all pushed to their limits of compassion and efficiency and the one they choose to give more weight to will also affect their odds of survival.
While the robberies are expectedly gripping, one of the most intense and memorable sequences only involves two of the main characters and a raid. A newly promoted police officer (Casey Affleck) leads a unit to clear an apartment of armed gang members. With his partner (Anthony Mackie) and another officer walking in line with the bulletproof shield carried by the lead cop, they search for the men that were just shooting at them moments earlier. The search leads to a foot chase and street shootout that not only strengthens the characters’ identities, but creates a new conflict in the narrative.
The acting is unequivocally superb. Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays the crew’s leader, Michael Atwood. A past relationship has led to this opportunity for some quick cash, which he hopes will improve his chances of spending more time with his son. But these same attachments make him vulnerable to manipulation. Norman Reedus plays his best friend and right-hand man, delivering the cool and deliberate performance audiences have become accustomed to on The Walking Dead. His less reliable brother is played by Aaron Paul. A messy demeanour and drug addiction makes him the weakest link in every circumstance. Woody Harrelson is the veteran cop tasked with finding and identifying the thieves; though as good as he may be at his job, no one would ever refer to him as a role model. It’s not often Clifton Collins, Jr. is given a meaty film role, but he’s repeatedly proven to be a talented actor with the chops to play more substantial, nuanced parts. He also looks great in a three-piece suit. Finally Kate Winslet owns one of the few female speaking roles, portraying the cutthroat wife of a Russian gangster who runs their business from the United States. The reputation of these types of organized crime members simplifies the characterization of the obvious villains, allowing the focus to remain on the cops and robbers.
Director John Hillcoat takes the thrilling script and top notch cast, and skillfully applies his experience with dark and intense narratives to produce a compelling and uncompromising crime drama that seizes viewers’ attentions for the full two hours.
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anthony Mackie
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