Triple Nine is an exciting and fun crime thriller which lets itself down with a pretty tired plot that we’ve all seen before.
The movie tells the story of a group of criminals (Chiwetel Ejiofo, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) and corrupt cops (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins, Jr.) who become embroiled in the schemes of a Russian mobster’s wife (Kate Winslet).
Nine is an interesting film because it has a lot of potential, its cast is beyond talented, and the moral complexities of the story make it interesting, so I’m disappointed to say it fails to deliver on what it promises.
That’s not to say it’s all bad – the opening adrenaline fuelled heist is incredibly exciting, full of dynamic shots and striking moments like the red flare. It’s visually interesting, well directed, and easily the film’s standout moment.
The directing as a whole is really good, especially during action scenes, and John Hillcoat manages to shoot tense, bombastic moments without resorting to shaky cam or choppy edits.
The ensemble cast also do a wonderful job, especially Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Woody Harrelson (my personal favourite) who deliver some of the film’s most interesting performances.
Unfortunately, the male leads dominate the film, leading to Gal Gadot and Teresa Palmer feeling slightly extraneous at times, but this is made up for by Kate Winslet’s standout performance as the Russian Israeli mob wife, Irina.
Winslet dominates every scene she’s in, giving a strangely trashy and darkly dangerous performance which I found wonderfully engaging as a viewer. I honestly found myself looking forward to every scene she was in.
Sadly, the wonderful cast can’t make up for the frankly weak story, written by first-time screenwriter Matt Cook, who fails to properly develop the seed of an interesting story, leaving us with plot threads that disappointingly go nowhere.
There are also one or two moments which will leave audiences rolling their eyes at the coincidences and conveniences that befall the characters, which ultimately make the whole thing feel unsatisfying.
All in all, Triple Nine is a decent enough action thriller, it’s just a shame that it wasn’t more polished before release because there were the seeds of a really terrific movie here.