Dir: John Hillcoat
I am a huge fan of John Hillcoat. The Proposition was a great alternative Western that turned the genre on its head in 2005 and 2009's The Road proved you could film the unfilmable and get people in cinemas to watch one of the most devastating films of all time. 2012's Lawless was another genre game-changer, written by Nick Cave (as was The Proposition), Hillcoat clearly understood his friend's vision and ran with it. So the idea of a crime thriller, Hillcoat's first to be filmed in a contemporary city setting, got me rather excited to see how he would play it. Unsurprisingly, the answer is brilliantly. Much like 2013's Out of the Furnace and 2012's Killing Me Softly, Triple 9 was overlooked upon its release and is a phenomenal crime thriller. The film features eight main characters, with neither being the main focus of the story. The story starts with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus and Clifton Collins Jr pulling off a stylish bank robbery. It is clear from this initial scene that the film is going to be exciting, convincing and unpredictable, and it really is. Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson play nephew and uncle cops rather well together and Kate Winslet is a revelation as Irina Vlaslov, the wife of a Russian Mob boss and the aunt to Chiwetel Ejiofor's character's son. The story twists and turns and never quite goes the way you think it might even though the audience are never left in the dark about what is happening. I like to think I'm pretty good at guessing what is going to happen next and what the overall outcome will be but who I guessed would 'get it first' towards the beginning of the film actually made it to the end and pretty much all my guesses were wrong by the time the end credits rolled. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. It seems pretty obvious but you only need a few ingredients to make a good crime thriller/heist movie; a good ensemble cast, an intelligent plan, a clever twist ending. Triple 9 has all these things and more. It has probably one of the best ensemble casts in years, each actor giving the perfect performance, it is intelligent without being complicated and has continual twists throughout without being confusing or convoluted. The script is sublime, uncomplicated but almost poetic at the same time. It is never anything other than convincing throughout. The film's momentum is exhausting and its brutal attitude is a slap in the face in a good way. The film has a dizzying paranoia about it that all good crime thrillers should have, it's not so much a who done it and will they get away with it but more of a who is going to get it and who is going to be left in the end. It is exciting from beginning to end and everything you could want from a film of its type and indeed a trip to the pictures.