Police movies tend to have the same formula: cops get involved in a big case, try to track down the bad guys, engage in a major chase sequence and eventually catch the criminals. “Triple 9” changes this trite formula by telling the story from the points of view of both the police and the criminals. Loaded with an all-star cast and a different take on the classic cop thriller, “Triple 9” seemed like a diamond in the rough for this genre. However, a few missing scenes, harsh comments and an unfulfilling ending make this thriller strictly mediocre.
“Triple 9” follows a group of criminals and dirty cops trying to pull off heists to satisfy the Russian Jewish mafia. After the group robs a bank, the Atlanta Police Department starts their investigation to find each perpetrator. However, two of the detectives that are involved in the case are also the criminals. The idea of the film is very intriguing and it led to a good storyline. It was interesting to watch the struggle of moral ambiguity play out in a group of dirty cops. Even so, the struggle between right and wrong became more evident as the criminals decided to pull a triple nine (police code for officer down) in order to commit the final heist. The psyche of each criminal was tested when they had to confront reality and choose between shooting an innocent officer and being murdered by the mafia, which led to the unfolding of great drama.
The story and the acting are the two high points of the film. “Triple 9” boasts an impressive cast that includes Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet. With an A-list cast, the standards for the film automatically increased. Overall, the cast did a great job portraying each of their characters.
Still, the big issue of the film does not deal with the acting, but the characters themselves. Each character and storyline was laced with racial stereotypes which were over-exaggerated at times, making some scenes feel very uncomfortable. There was no need for racial stereotypes to play a large role in the film. It had no impact on the plot, so the characters did not need to be portrayed in this manner.
Another issue with “Triple 9” is that a few key sequences were cut from the film. There were at least three short scenes that were clearly missing and will leave the viewer wondering how something just happened. The poor editing decision makes parts of the story hard to follow because the action changes without the audience knowing why. It was annoying to lose parts of key moments that would have given better explanation as to what was occurring.
The final issue was the pick-your-own-ending conclusion to the film. This film should have had a clear ending where everything had wrapped up nicely, with the audience knowing what becomes of each character. Instead, the film ends with a few of the characters’ statuses up in the air. It feels like the film has unfinished business when it ends, and the writers should have stuck to the typical genre formula and written a full circle ending.
Overall, “Triple 9” is not a terrible film. It is an enjoyable action-drama-thriller, but it does have its turnoffs. It was inappropriate to have racial stereotypes play a large role and ruin the action. Hopefully, the next dirty cop movie will not follow suit.