Although there is a lot going on, a decent story and some strong performances make Triple 9 one of the more exciting entries in the crime-thriller genre.

Triple 9 follows a group of criminals as they plan their next heist. With one more job left to run, the group are left to use the police code 999 (officer down) in order to provide the perfect distraction.

Director John Hillcoat has been responsible for some of the grittier character driven films in the last 10 years. Whether he is taking on a post apocalyptic world or telling the tale of bootleggers in the Great Depression, Hillcoat has more than proven he can handle crime, thrills and even the odd bit of drama. It seems a little odd then that a man so confident telling a story with a strong lead would want to take on a multi-character ensemble when it strays so far from his usual projects. Thankfully, this gamble pays off for the most part, even though there are a few problems here and there, its definitely not something to turn away from.

The film itself flows nicely from one scene to the next, getting through the story at a pace that most people in the audience will favour. For the most part, the camera work is handled well but there are times when it feels a little bit too jumpy. Given the circumstances, it’s probably the best way to go, especially during some of the more action oriented chase scenes but there are times when it goes a little too far and we end up with the irreparable ‘Green zone’  shake.

Unsurprisingly, the screenplay is very similar to others within the genre. Most of the twists have been seen on numerous occasions leading to a fairly un-original story. Thankfully however, it’s directed well enough for this not to be a huge issue and you can forgive a couple of the cliché directions the narrative decides to go in.

One issue that does manage to rear its head a little too often though is that there is way too much going on. With a long line of characters to get your head around, there are times when the audience may get a little lost or even worse, wish they were watching someone else’s story unfold. Although an unlikely comparison, one of the of reasons films like Valentines Day and New Years Eve fail is that there are way too many characters to focus  – an issue that is oddly appropriate here.

Sadly, further fuel is added to the flame when you consider the strength of the cast. Although it’s great to see such a strong ensemble, it proves at times to be a double edged sword rather than of great benefit. On one hand, you could argue that this collection of actors makes for an interesting dynamic, each scene giving the audience something to look forward to. On the other however, a great performance makes you want to see much more than the narrative allows, making you feel like some of the story wasn’t explored enough. Although this may not be enough to ruin things, it does leave you leaving the cinema wishing you had seen more of some of the stronger characters.

Overall, even though Triple 9 does have its issues, its impressive direction and quick pacing help you to ignore the issues and head home feeling entertained. With so to take in, it may seem like there is way too much going on at times, but thankfully, a strong backbone to the story keeps you on track just enough to fully immerse you into the underbelly of American society. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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