Film Review by Kam Williams
Ruthless Russian Mobsters Blackmail Crooked Cops in Riveting, High Body-Count Thriller
Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) assumed the reins of an Atlanta-based crime syndicate after her husband Vasili (Igor Komar) was sent up the river. Despite the jailing of the ruthless mobster, the gang’s operations have continued to flourish with the help of corrupt police officers and ex-Marines. One crooked cop, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), even has a young son (Blake McLennan) with Irina’s sister, Elena (Gal Gadot), which makes him all the more vulnerable to manipulation.
Like a Russian version of the Mexican drug lord El Chapo, Vasili is just itching to get out of jail. So, Irina hatches a plan to spring him from prison with the help of the various authorities she already has in a compromising position.
In 25 words or less, the scheme involves issuing a phony 9-9-9, the police code for “officer down,” since every police car would be immediately dispatched to the scene not only to assist the wounded brother in blue but to apprehend the perpetrator. Theoretically, at least, that drain on available resources would afford Irina’s henchmen an opportunity to strike.
Thus unfolds Triple 9, a rather riveting cat-and-mouse caper directed by Aussie John Hillcoat (The Road). The over-the-top action thriller featuring an intriguing plot was written by first-time scriptwriter Matt Cook.
Its cast includes an array of A-list actors topped by Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Teresa Palmer and Michael Kenneth Williams. Having so many talented thespians pays off in spades for a picture which proves compelling from beginning to end.
At heart, Triple 9 is a nihilistic adventure set in a disturbing, urban dystopia filled with nothing but untrustworthy backstabbers. That makes it darn near impossible to find a protagonist to root for besides Sergeant Jeffrey Allen (Harrelson), a clean detective capable of smelling a rat.
The wily veteran in charge of the investigation must negotiates his way down a dangerous gauntlet while sorting out suspects right in the ranks of his own department. What makes his plight even dicier is the pyrotechnics-driven flick’s “When in doubt, blow it up!” philosophy.
An alternately visceral and cerebral, high body-count crime thriller not to be missed!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for nudity, graphic violence, drug use and pervasive profanity
Running time: 115 minutes
Distributor: Open Road Films