Heist outing has style but miscast crew
TRIPLE 9 (M18)
Crime thriller/115 minutes/Opens today
TRIPLE 9 is a flawed but interesting take on the heist movie, helmed by a director known for paring everything down to minimalist essentials.
A gang of robbers, headed by Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor), are forced to make one more raid at the behest of the Russian mafia, led by dowager Irina (Kate Winslet). To give themselves a cop-free window of time, they decide to execute a "triple 9", code for an officer casualty, as a diversion.
Australian director John Hillcoat favours movies about hard men slogging away at difficult jobs (Lawless, 2012; The Road, 2009; The Proposition, 2005) so this is right up his alley. It's the most plot-driven one he's done but he dishes out the twists coherently and with style.
The problems occur first with casting. Winslet is clearly having fun as the ice queen Irina, but in a movie coated in street grittiness, her Bond-villainess vibe sticks out and not in a good way. Irina might as well be stroking a cat on her lap when she give orders.
Also, the story asks that you believe that police divisions act like schoolyard mobs, rushing over pell-mell when one of their own is down, or that a few of their own could moonlight as bank robbers.
For all its structural problems, there is enough style here to warrant a pass, once you get past Winslet's impressions of a Tzarina gone bad.