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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 28, 2016

Triple 9 Movie Review: A Boring Stupid Ride

AUSSIE DIRECTOR John Hillcoat did a good job in “Lawless”, a film about an illegal moonshine business during the Prohibition Era starring Tom Hardy. So we’re expecting his new work, “Triple 9”, will similarly be fine. A movie about dirty cops, “Triple 9” is the code for “officer down”, meaning a policeman is hit so all other cops go to the area where the stricken cop is situated to rescue him.

The film starts with a bank robbery in Atlanta, Georgia by rogue cops. The leader is Chiwetel Ejiofor (“The Secret in their Eyes”, where he’s a good cop), a former special operations expert. With him are Anthony Mackie (Falcon in “Ironman”), Clifton Collins, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul. The robbery sequence is shot beautifully, tense, specially the freeway shootout, and it makes you expect a riveting high stakes thriller. Alas, it’s quickly downhill from here.

The bad cops are not after the bank’s money but a safety deposit box ordered from them by Russian mob boss, Irina (Kate Winslet, who sports a Russian accent and an attitude). They succeed but she won’t pay them unless they do another job for her: a second heist involving the Homeland Security building. To pull this off, they plan to kill a cop to distract all other police officers so they can freely do the second heist.

They choose a new recruit in their group, Casey Affleck, to be their victim. It so happened that Casey is the nephew of the cop investigating the crimes of the wayward cops, Woody Harrelson. But on the day that Casey is set up to be killed, things unfortunately go haywire for the bad cops. It’s not Casey who becomes the patsy but one of them instead.

The problem with the movie is it’s so slow moving. Sequences that should be fast paced tend to just go on and on. A lot of re-editing and trimming can remedy this. Also, the director chooses annoying camera work using a handheld camera and often shot in nearly total darkness. It’s as if they’re scrimping on their budget for lights. The messy script also needs to be rewritten to make the situations less ludicrous.

Most of the actors are wasted in their roles, especially the women: Gal Gadot (the future Wonder Woman) as Kate’s sister who has a son with Chiwetel and Teresa Palmer (“The Choice”) as the wife of Casey. The only characters we get to care for are Casey and Woody, but the script didn’t succeed in making us really root for them, making the movie one hell of a stupid ride.