Triple 9, is a $20-plus million dollar crime drama, directed by Australian Film Director John Hillcoat, and produced by Worldview Entertainment.
Well made, with nice production values, and boasting a diverse ensemble cast, with many well known actors and actresses contributing their talents, the film's glaring shortcoming is the story.
Although I had no illusions about what it was that I was going to see; a gritty, heist film, presumably focused on a team of corrupt cops that moonlight as thieves, the slick trailer and tagline "A deadly heist, needs a killer distraction", held at least the possibility of a new take on the genre. But, to put it bluntly, original it is not.
Triple 9 has an all too familiar feel to it. To watch it, is to experience a recurring sense of deja vu. That is, of course, if you've seen Training Day, or Heat, or Heist, Armored, The Town, etc. If you're a fan of the heist genre, and don't care about plot, then you're good to go. If you're looking for originality, this ain't it.
Muddled, rehashed story aside, the most unsettling aspect of this film, was the character portrayals, and specifically who characterized said portrayals.
As I sat through the 1 hour and 55 minute film, I found myself waiting for a "normal", or should I say non-stereotypical character of color. Virtually all of the Black and Latino characters were either crooked cops, thugs, gang bangers, dope fiends, prostitutes, or a transgendered snitch. -About the last one, all I can say to Michael K. Williams is, dude, really? The Asian actress in the film, didn't escape the stereotype vortex either, because she fit perfectly into the "model minority" mold that is typically configured for Asian characters outside of an Asian mafia/Triad storyline. Anyways...
Triple 9 isn't the first and won't be the last Hollywood production to put stereotypical characters of color on screen. Any U.S. film concerning urban crime, or centered in urban areas is all but assured to feature a fair share of them prominently. But this goes well above and beyond.
Of course, I looked up the writer, Matt Cook, because I like to know who is who, and what is what. All I can say about that, is....I am not shocked. -I'm not going to say it. Google him for yourself, if you're curious.
Performance-wise, the actors were solid all around. Chiwetel Ejiorfor, Anthony Mackie, Casey Affleck, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson, Clifton Collins, Jr., Aaron Paul, and Gal Gadot, all worked well within the constraints of the meandering script. The only cringe-worthy, squirm-in-your-seat, "I wish I wasn't black right now" scene involves Michael K. Williams. Clearly he never heard Denzel Washington's advice to up and coming black male actors. -Yikes.
Kate Winslet was impressive in her portrayal of a Russian mob boss's wife. She's come a long way since Titanic, because I literally didn't recognize her until really late in the film. Lastly, someone needs to get word to Clifton Collins, Jr. that there are other types of roles for him to play. -Jeez. Again, bro?
All things considered, I would have to rate this film a 4 out of 10. Unlike many of the reviewers that are either numb, blind, or in agreement with the over-use of one-dimensional stereotypes, I don't have it in me to turn a blind eye to it.
In good conscience, I wouldn't recommend this film to friends and family, even with a "see it at matinee price" or "wait for dvd" disclaimer.
Is it THAT bad? Well, that depends on your perspective and your expectations. If you are tired of the "tired" stereotypes, then yes, Triple 9 is that bad.