Think Reservoir Dogs meets American Sniper meets Training Day meets just about any movie directed by Michael Mann and you have the recipe for Triple 9a dark, gritty, terribly confusing but entertaining cops-and-robbers thriller that paints a very gray line between good and bad. In fact, if the movie has any kind of fatal flaw, it is that there is no one in this melting pot of criminal activity to really root for. But as I say in my video review above, it doesn’t really matter, as director John Hillcoat (Lawless) keeps up the action pace from opening frame to last.

pete hammond review badgeThe near-10 minute curtain-raiser introduces us to a group of what turns out to be Iraq veterans/bad cops who pull off a violent bank heist. The fact that this exceptionally well-chosen cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr., Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul should be an indication of what movie fans are in for. But that’s just the beginning as this dubious gang goes about their business answering to the chillingly evil Mafia-connected Irina, who is running the Israeli-Russian Mob while her husband is locked up. No need for him anyway, as she’s the real deal and played to the hilt by Kate Winslet, who just steals more than the loot. She walks away with the picture and seems to be having a great time doing it.

Added to all this are the “good” guys led by Casey Affleck , a young cop partnered with the not-so-good cop played by Mackie. Woody Harrelson turns up as his Uncle Jeff, a veteran of the force who has clearly seen it all. Matt Cook’s complex screenplay weaves all these characters and their inter-relationships deftly in and out of a movie that has almost too much going for it. At times I got lost, but not for long as Hillcoat proves a master of this kind of noirish cinematic experience.

If this all sounds like the kind of genre thriller you like, you should check out this Open Road Fims release, which goes wide today. Producers are Marc Butan, Keith Redmon, Brad Dorros, Anthony Katagas, Christopher Woodrow and Hillcoat.

Do you plan to see Triple 9? Let us know what you think.