Triple 9 (USA, 2016)

triple_nineDirected by: John Hillcoat. Even as a self-proclaimed John Hillcoat fan, this one came totally under the radar. Did this go straight to video? Either way, it looked great—a Michael Mann-style cops and robbers thriller with Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Casey Affleck (before I heard that he’s probably a creepy douchebag). It’s disheartening that a movie like this can’t even get its head above the parapet—I don’t recall it being in theatres, I don’t recall seeing a trailer, I don’t recall any articles talking about it, eluding to it, acknowledging it one way or another. Like so many things, I saw the DVD at my local library. What’s the deal? I’m tempted to chalk this up to an inarticulate “movies these days” rant about how everyone would rather watch cartoons for adults—superhero movies, video game movies, adaptations of teen fiction and children’s fiction—than just a fucking grown-up movie about grown-up shit for grown-ups. Because really, I’m not trying to drag people from a Harry Potter prequel and shove them into a fucking Bergman film or something. To put it bluntly, Triple 9 is not a lofty foreign art film. This is an exciting, grim, sexy, macho-idiot-guy movie with gun fights and car chases, but it’s neither Fast nor Furious, it’s just a functional, grown-up movie, with a teeny tiny bit of intellect and substance (ie: the story actually makes sense, it’s not full of overdone CGI and the characters are actually interesting). And it’s not even like this was a great movie—it wasn’t. But it was a pretty good movie, a pretty nice way to turn your brain off and let 2 hours pass by. If you’re into depictions of cops and gangsters in movies, then there’s literally no reason not to check this out. And really, if I’m being honest, there is something pretty interesting here, between the weird red dye in the opening sequence, and the still-fairly-novel power dynamic of Kate Winslet as the heartless boot on Chiwetel’s neck the whole time, there’s something pretty interesting and long-lasting about this movie. Maybe it’s the fact that this is the third John Hillcoat film I’ve seen, after the dreamy, lyrical Australian Western The Proposition, and the spare, brutal The Road, and this looks like neither. As mentioned above, with its fast cutting, its moral ambiguity, and its cinema-verite-sleek cinematography, it borrows a lot from Michael Mann films, and Heat in particular (although perhaps every mature, sleek cops-and-robbers film is operating in Heat territory, the way that almost every modern astronaut/space travel movie is firmly in the shadow of Kubrick and 2001), and I’m even getting a whiff of the bizarre and, to me, still tantalizingly inscrutable Ridley Scott film The Counselor. It’s a great take on the genre, and ultimately a pretty standard story of humanity’s best laid plans going to shit because of their character foils—in this case, the plans of being greedy and self-serving being undermined by Anthony Mackie’s unexpected human compassion for Casey Affleck. And of course, everyone does a great job here—Mackie and Affleck, Winslet and Ejiofor, Aaron Paul and Woody Harrelson. What a stacked cast, and it still barely broke even! What’s wrong with the movies these days?

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One response to “Triple 9 (USA, 2016)

  1. Pingback: The Dressmaker (Australia, 2015) | Offhand Reviews·

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