John Hilllcoat's Triple 9

This will be me rummaging about director John Hillcoat and his by-the-numbers -but nevertheless thrilling in some parts- new film Triple 9. Hilllcoat really made his mark with The Proposition, which was an Australian western that took place in the Outback, now why the hell would that not work out as a film? It did and Hillcoat really turned heads with that one and despite my reservations for a few plot contrivances I did like its style quite a bit. Then came his big break, which could have been an even bigger deal, but alas it never materialized, an adaptation of Cormac Mccarthy's seminal novel The Road. Now this was broodingly morose material, right up Hillcoat's alley and I did think it was a good film, but that's the problem. The Road is supposed to make a GREAT film and he didn't add that extra something to make it an Awards contender, He followed it up with another GOOD film Lawless, which had an incredible cast including Jessica Chastain and Tom Hardy, another sort of Western-influenced take on the 1930's bootlegging scene and I really dug it, especially on second viewing where some of the finer details of the picture really stood out.

Now we come to Triple 9 which is probably the most conventional film h's made so far in his career, the cast is insanely A-list: Kate Winselt, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Great cast, but this film's release feels seriously dated, This is the kind of movie that Michael Mann invented in 1995 with Heat, there haven't been many better since then. A heist, police procedural with both the good and bad guys sitting on that moral dilemma fence, yeah it's all good I'm a sucker for these kind of pictures and I dug quite a bit of Triple 9, which is by the way the term used for an officer down in case you wanted to know. Winslet, who is badly miscast here, still manages to, well, be Kate Winslet and bring out another great performance. The whole cast is genuinely great and the direction by Hillcoat is as expected pretty solid, standard stuff/ He seems to really dig making brutally violent movies with moral dilemmas at the core of his characters. There are some action scenes here that I will truly grip you to your seat. Too bad, then, that the screenplay by Matt Cook doesn't push any boundaries and go beyond run of the mill characterizations and plot twists. Hillcoat deserved better, the cast deserved better and we deserved better. What we're left with is an entertaining action movie, but there's a reason why the studio decided to throw this one at us the last week of February.