Review: A-list cast gets gritty in ‘Triple 9’

Adam Graham
The Detroit News
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A top-notch cast — including an Oscar winner and three nominees — gets down and dirty in “Triple 9,” a gritty, hard-boiled crime story about crooked cops and the Russian mob.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is Michael Atwood, a former Navy SEAL who heads up a crew of cops and hoods (including Anthony Mackie and Aaron Paul) who take on high-risk heists. As luck would have it, they’re also the ones investigating the crimes for the Atlanta police department.

Mackie’s Marcus Belmont is a detective whose new partner Chris Allen (a pumped-up Casey Affleck) figures into the group’s next plan: In order to carry out a daring job, they’ll distract the cops by pulling a 999 — police code for officer down — while they take a score across town.

Elsewhere, Atwood is in deep to mob boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet!) while detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson, beaming in from planet bizarro) is hot on the trail of his crew.

Director John Hillcoat (“The Road”) pulls off several dramatic stickups while managing to keep the dynamics within the group constantly shifting. And with such a deep cast, he need only point his camera in the right direction to capture the flying sparks.

The script, from first-time screenwriter Matt Cook, traffics in street-level gang violence and police force corruption, and makes for a twisty little potboiler. It’s part “Heat” and part “The Departed.”

It’s just not quite as serious as the actors take it; only Harrelson seems to truly know what he’s dealing with here: a solid B movie with an A-list cast.

‘Triple 9’


Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and some nudity

Running time: 115 minutes

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