Gritty cop dramas centered around corruption and violence are nothing new in the world of cinema. As a matter of fact, they have been some of the most highly regarded films over the years. With the kind of cast that it has, I’m assuming that this is what the makers behind Triple 9 were hoping for. While it doesn’t reach that level of success and quality, there are some things to like here.
While working for the Russian mob, a dangerously efficient crew that happens to include crooked cops are asked to pull off a heist that may be the deadliest job they’ve ever taken on. It appears to be an impossible task at first, but a clever idea leads them to think about manufacturing the 999 police code for “officer down” that would create a valuable opportunity for success. With a plan in place, now all they need to do is find a cop to take the fall and hope that the growing suspicions of the officers surrounding them won’t interfere with their objectives.
Having stories that make sense and fit the main plot is an important aspect of film. Depending on the circumstances, this can make a movie or break it if the flaws are too glaring to ignore. If it isn’t done properly, these mishaps can disrupt what we’re watching and sometimes make it hard to stay in the film for its entertainment purposes.
The good news is that everything in Triple 9 has a place in the story that’s being told. While that’s refreshing, these pieces don’t always mesh when trying to turn this all into one solid unit. I’m obviously not going to go into details too much, but introducing certain dynamics in terms of relationships and things of that nature at the wrong time hurts the film in some ways. Whether it’s including certain scenes earlier in the film or trying to develop certain relationships more, this movie could have benefited from a few adjustments.
These alterations would have almost certainly allowed us as viewers to see and feel the connections between the characters more. Having that happen would have presented chances for more emotional responses from us as we watch things unfold, come together and/or potentially fall apart. Instead of that, we understand them when they happen, but the type of reaction may not be all that it could have been. In my opinion, this is what prevents it from being a great cop movie.
One positive is the tone that is set here from the start. There’s a gritty, dark and hard spirit that you would expect from a movie like this. Getting this right is something that allows it to be more than a movie that’s simply setting out to be tough. There’s not much of an attempt at being flashy or stylish either. This makes the tone seem even more organic.
Some of this credit has to also go to the actors as well since they assist in bringing that rough, callous attitude to the film. What also helps here is the amount of joy that many of the characters here lack. Aside from one of the side characters, everyone else included is simply about their business throughout the entire duration of this feature.
In being a solid picture that isn’t able to find its place next to the most memorable cop dramas that have been released over the years, Triple 9 manages to be both something that’s decent and something that leaves you wishing there was a little bit more to it at the same time. I can’t say that I don’t think of it as a credible film, but maybe giving us a chance to witness the development of some of the core relationships could have helped in getting it there.
Director: John Hillcoat
Clifton Collins, Jr.
Michael K. Williams
Film Length: 115 minutes
Release Date: February 26, 2016
Distributor: Open Road Films