Blu-ray Review: Triple 9

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The crime thriller Triple 9 feels like the product of a bunch of 14-year-olds who obsessively watched flicks like Training Day and TV shows like The Shield over and over, finally deciding to crank out a super cool knock-off megamix of all their favorite moments. And somehow managed to get a star-studded ensemble cast to star. But no, in fact Triple 9 was directed by the very capable John Hillcoat (who helmed 2012's engrossing prohibition-era drama Lawless).

Sadly, despite the presence of Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Norman Reedus (Walking Dead fans take note, Reedus has precious little screen time), Triple 9 could've actually benefited from being more formulaic, because at least a pure formula general tells a straightforward story. This tale of bank robbers, dirty cops, and Russian mobsters is needlessly complicated. If you can endure the first 70 minutes, its final half hour packs in some moderately interesting plot twists. But by that point, no viewer could be blamed for checking out. 
Triple 9 rs.jpg Screenwriter Matt Cook (this looks to be his feature-length debut) and director Hillcoat don't do the formidable cast any favors. Marcus (Mackie) and Franco (Clifton Collins, Jr.) are ethically-challenged cops working with bank robbers Michael (Ejiofor), Russell (Reedus), and Gabe (Aaron Paul). They're trying to steal evidence that will clear the name of Irina's (Winslet) imprisoned mob boss husband. Even after they get what she wants, Irina ups the ante by requiring the gang to do even further bad deeds for her. There's not enough character development and the dialogue has no spark.

Triple 9 a rs.jpg The action is sometimes efficient (particularly the opening heist), but overall Triple 9 is an overextended bore. The most interesting aspect is also its most derivative. Casey Affleck plays Marcus' rookie partner. He's appalled by the corruption he sees, yet is somewhat slow to catch on to the true nature of the dangerous situation in which he's become embroiled. Of course, Training Day already exists. Rewatch that before wasting time here.

Universal has kept things simple with their Blu-ray edition of Triple 9. There aren't many special features—a few deleted scenes and a pair of brief promotional featurettes. Nicolas Karakatsanis' moody, gritty cinematography looks sharp and the audio is presented as DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround. The package includes a Digital HD copy.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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