First Hit: This is a somewhat complicated slow-build up film with a satisfying ending.
“Triple 9” is police code for Officer Shot/Down.
In Atlanta when this call comes over the police radios, all units head to the scene above everything else. This is a critical piece of the plot of this film as we have crooked police officers Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) working with former federal agents Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul) to obtain hard to get items for a Russian Jewish syndicate led by the crime bosses’ wife Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet).
First they obtain a safe deposit box by robbing a bank and then the get a file box from a NSA secure location. There are additional complications because Atwood has a child with Irina’s sister Elena (Gal Gadot) and both he and Irina use the child to get something they want.
Looking into the robberies and internal issues with the Atlanta Police force are Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) and Chris Allen (Casey Affleck). The way this film unfolds the story is strong in that it gives you bits of the story and then bits of the characters as it fills out each in the end. The direction was strong and many of the scenes, and ways they were shot, were compelling.
Collins ended up being an intense critical component of this film. When he said he had no issue with a 999 you felt he meant it. Mackie was strong, portrayed a coldness in his police work while occasionally breaking into showing his heart in his role. The development of the partnership with Chris Allen was excellent. Affleck, as Allen, was very good as the no-nonsense brash new guy on the Atlanta force with the balls to move things forward. Ejiofor was very good as the father who was going to, in the end, exact the price for the betrayal of the Russian mob. Winslet was truly a surprise and not a surprise. She played the role of female matriarch and mob leader to perfection. Harrelson was odd and compelling as the strung out police detective who, in his own way, wanted the right thing to happen. Paul was strong as the disintegrating member of the team. His drug use and internal pressure had him spiraling downward. Luis Da Silva Jr. as Luis Pinto was great as the leader of a Latino gang. He showed great presence and a set of cojones when it came towards the police. Matt Cook wrote a very strong script. John Hillcoat did a good job of directing this complex story and creating a solid story and characters.
Overall: This was a strong film with a few very strong performances.