There's a blue-chip cast running the gamut from A (Casey Affleck) to W (Kate Winslet) and terrific action sequences in Triple 9 - but in the end, this relentlessly nihilistic crime-caper thriller adds up to less than the sum of its impressive parts.
The movie involves a pair of heists, a prisoner abroad, corrupt cops, mobsters, gangsters, and more, and the parts are considerably better than the messy, unfocused whole. But oh, the parts can be a pleasure.
Hillcoat's approach is to craft a pulse-pounding experience that employs a mixture of conventional footage and hand-held work. There's an immediacy to the most gripping scenes.
The uneven thing [here] is John Hillcoat's direction: a tense, sustained journey through an apartment while lined up behind a bulletproof shield alternating with indulgent zooms and cuts depicting local color.
Hillcoat directs with a sense of immediacy and grimy realism, bringing the audience into the shootouts and bloodshed on the streets. Atlanta becomes another war zone for the men who have seen war, battling an enemy of a different race and culture.
Though compelling in the acting and cinematography, Triple 9's plot is by the numbers and about nothing.
Most parties concerned maintain their grim countenances, their characters struggling to find the sweet spot between honor and greed, between doing the right thing and doing the absolute worst.
"Triple 9" is as heartless as the people who infest it-the exception being a decent cop, Chris Allen, played by Casey Affleck-and mannered to the point of self-parody.
One of those productions in which much of the creative energy has been funneled into gaudily inventive displays of violence.