Kate Winslet turns to the dark side in John Hillcoat’s impactful crime thriller
Triple 9 may look nothing out of the ordinary. Bank jobs, dirty cops, Russian mobsters, Latino gangs – it feels like just another game of Grand Theft Auto. But, characterised by its urgency, John Hillcoat’s thriller is a visceral ride, compellingly told with a first-rate ensemble cast from both sides of the pond. Set in a seedy Atlanta, it begins as it means to go on – as masked men violently raid a local bank, making their escape by the skin of their teeth, all guns blazing.
Turns out these crooks are – or in some cases were – law-enforcers. The crux, however, comes when it’s revealed that the leader, Terrell (Chiwetel Ejiofor), is beholden to a Russian-Jewish mafia outfit run by the terrifying, power-suit wearing Irina (Kate Winslet). When she forces the gang to raid a seemingly impenetrable Homeland Security outpost, the only way to succeed is to create a diversion by triggering the all-units ‘999’ cop code used when an officer is down.
Primed for the fall is Casey Affleck’s rookie Chris, who just so happens to be the new partner of one of the gang members (Anthony Mackie’s streetwise cop), and nephew to the hard-drinking veteran detective (Woody Harrelson) trying to solve the opening robbery. Like a twisted bed of thorns, Matt Cook’s interlaced script spins on a cold-blooded premise that fits right into Hillcoat’s wheelhouse after his western The Proposition and Prohibition-era tale Lawless.
Fine support comes from Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and Clifton Collins Jr as the other shifty, sweaty gang members, but it’s Winslet who is the revelation as the menacing mafia madam – her lines dipped in pure poison. Edited with verve and cut to a nervy score by a collective led by Atticus Ross, the result reinvigorates the heist sub-genre with a huge shot of adrenaline. It’ll leave you buzzing.
General release from Fri 19 Feb.