Review: ‘Triple 9’ Pulls off a Decent, not Great, Heist


Well-Acted | Emotionless Core | Missing Something

After the thrilling opening minutes of what could’ve been the next great heist movie, we’re sadly left with a film that leaves you hanging and wanting more, but don’t let that steer you away. There are a lot of good things that occur throughout this story, particularly the performances by Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Performances aren’t everything, though. While a film like “The Departed” had excellent performances, it also had a perfectly crafted story, with twists and turns that kept you on the edge of your seat. “Triple 9” tries to pull a “Departed” in a few places, but it falls flat because of one particular reason.

Cinematics – 2.5

That one reason is the emotionless foundation that the audience is given. Throughout the entire film, I honestly didn’t care for one of the many characters. Sure, their performances made me feel some emotions at times, but when it comes to a character’s stakes and overall arc, I didn’t feel my heart sink when the characters hit rock bottom. Maybe this is because the story concentrated on too many characters instead of one or two? Or maybe it’s because we didn’t get enough time to enjoy and understand each character?

The story should've been about one or two characters, not several.

The story should’ve been about one or two characters, not several.

I actually would’ve liked to see the entire story be about Casey Affleck’s character, because he’s caught up in an interesting situation, yet even though I love Affleck and his previous performances, this one was honestly disappointing. If he didn’t get to work with Anthony Mackie, then I believe the film would’ve been missing more of a heart than it already is. Going back to the film needing to concentrate on one or two characters, Mackie and Affleck’s characters would’ve honestly been the perfect fit.

Mackie plays a dirty cop while Affleck plays a good cop. They are partners, but Mackie’s crew comes up with a plan to commit 999 in order to open enough of a window so the crew can commit a heist. 999 is the police code for officer down. Anytime that’s heard over the radio, every cop in the city converges on that location. Sounds pretty decent, right? Yes it does, but when Mackie becomes conflicted because he doesn’t know whether to truly kill Affleck or keep him alive, that conflict doesn’t hit home because there wasn’t enough time for a real relationship to develop between Mackie and Affleck. The result? A scene that’s trying to be a tension-filled masterpiece that falls completely flat.

...yet even though I love Affleck and his previous performances, this one was honestly disappointing.

…yet even though I love Affleck and his previous performances, this one was honestly disappointing.

That’s how the whole film felt, actually. Flat. Something was always missing, and it comes down to the audience not feeling any emotion for the characters. There’s a scene in the end with Woody Harrelson where I believe he’s supposedly completed his character arc and buried some demons that he’s been fighting with for a long time, yet we don’t really understand that because we don’t understand his character. So, we’re left with confusion instead of heartbreak.
That’s the only thing to write about here. If the story was about one or two characters, developing them and their relationships properly, then I believe the story and the characters would’ve fallen into place much easier. Instead, we get a film that has a lot of promise and some good performances, particularly by Kate Winslet, whose Russian accent might not be the best but she’s definitely evil. Sadly, that promise doesn’t come through, and you’re left wanting more in the end.

Entertainment Value – 3

Kate Winslet's accent might not be the best, but she's still one evil woman.

Kate Winslet’s accent might not be the best, but she’s still one evil woman.

I enjoyed the action sequences and wondering what was going to happen next, but other than that I can really only say I was entertained during the first 10-15 minutes of the film. During the rest, I was just sitting there, hoping some character development would come through. Regardless of all that though, I still enjoyed its decent attempt of trying to be a heist movie, but I’ll watch “Heat” and “Inside Man” if I want too indulge myself with a great heist movie.

Rewatchability – 1

Usually when I don’t like a movie, I say I’ll give it another shot, perhaps catching something I missed the first time. With the exception to the first 10-15 minutes, I really don’t see myself watching this movie again. If it’s on TV, and I happen to be flipping by, maybe I’ll watch it again, but I mainly watch Netflix and Hulu now, so that’s most likely not going to happen.

  • Cinematics
  • Entertainment Value
  • Rewatchability


A heist film that tries to do too much with too many characters leaves you hanging and wanting more. Wanting more of an emotional foundation to sink your teeth into, but finding yourself sadly disappointed when you don’t receive it. The film is a decent attempt at trying to make the next great heist movie, with a bit of “The Departed” molded into it, but you’ll most likely be disappointed, even with some of the great performances.

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Author: Matt

Seeing "Stand By Me" at the age of 6 solidified Matt's ambition to be a part of the entertainment industry. After growing up in Northern Virginia, studying film at Old Dominion University and rising from intern to Stage Manager at a Dinner Theater, Matt found himself at a speed bump in his life and wanting to express himself in more of a substantial way than calling a cue or flying a line every night. This need for creative expression pushed him to take on the challenge of getting a Master's Degree, which sent him on a year-long endeavor that seemed to throw obstacles and setbacks from every direction. But now, Matt is a screenwriter with a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a passion for film, video games and professional wrestling, looking to keep the ambitious 6-year-old inside of him alive by entertaining the world through various forms of entertainment.

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