Friday, February 26, 2016

“Triple 9” – Distractions everywhere.

I don’t know that there’s ever a good time to release a movie about corrupt cops, but now seems like an especially bad time. One day, assholes are killing cops and the next day, cops are killing kids wielding toy guns in a park. Every one of these events has people on all sides of the issue vehemently arguing about police abuse, the ability of cops to fulfill their duties, targeting of minorities, targeting of cops, and possibly the lowest amount of trust exchanged between the general public and general police force. With all that dominating the ten percent of news cycles that aren’t devoted to the current election circus, the higher-ups over at Worldview Entertainment said “fuck it; let’s do this.” Not only did they decide to release a movie about good cops, bad cops, and a whole lot of killing, but they decided to name the movie after the code given for an officer down. Who’s ready for some fun, huh?

Walking out of the theater, the most common reaction I heard was “that movie was really confusing.” I wouldn’t characterize the movie as confusing, but I would say that the movie leaves a lot of unanswered questions in its wake. For instance, my biggest question was how bad was Kate Winslet’s Russian accent? Egads was that thing exaggerated. Once I stopped thinking about that, my next question was why was Woody Harrelson wearing dentures? I thought the accent was distracting until the dentures distracted me from the accent. Then, I wondered what Casey Affleck had to do to hulk out like that. Welcome to the gun show is right. Yes, these are the things that I think about during movies that don’t bother to write a compelling plot or give us back stories to its characters. Now you know why those people were confused.

(Some spoilers coming up, though I won’t tell you which cop needs the 999.)

Based on the trailers, I thought the movie was going to be a heist movie and it definitely starts out that way. A crew of five guys consisting of two ex-special forces soldiers – Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Russel (Norman Reedus) – Russel’s brother and former cop, Gabe (Aaron Paul), and two active and corrupt cops – Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Jorge (Clifton Collins, Jr.) – are hired by a Russian mob wife, Irina (Winslet), to rob a bank. Their target is a safe deposit box and these guys are really good at robbery. Upon delivery of the box, Irina shirks on paying them, instead insisting that they perform another theft, this time stealing a box from a secret Department of Homeland Security warehouse. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Well, hold on to your butts.

Chris Allen (Affleck) is reassigned to Marcus’ precinct as Marcus’ new partner. Chris is also a former soldier, but he just wants to make a difference. They make a big deal out of him being transferred from a cushy precinct, but no explanation is given as to why. But, don’t worry too much about it because they’ll distract you with his wife’s (Teresa Palmer) naked ass. I’m not sure how that helps those who aren’t attracted by such things, but it works for me.

Further muddying the waters is Chris’ uncle, Jeffery (Woody Harrelson), who is a lead detective at another precinct. He’s leading the bank robbery investigation, but spends his spare time drinking and smoking his ground-up medication. I’m sure there are metaphors in these character traits, but after a whole lot of time watching these cops bicker with each other and no heists to speak of, I just didn’t care. All I cared about was answering why Irina would kill Dwight from The Walking Dead (Reedus) as a scare tactic if she was holding Michael’s kid hostage. Oh wait, there’s Gal Gadot’s (playing Irina’s sister and the mother of Michael’s kid) almost naked ass. Nevermind.

Eventually, the now short-handed crew decides that the only way to give themselves enough time to pull off the DHS heist is to distract every cop in Atlanta by killing a cop and calling in a code 999. No, seriously, they explain to us that every cop will definitely drop whatever assignment they have to respond to an officer down code, no matter how far away or preoccupied they might be. It’s totally believable, just like it’s totally believable that a secret DHS facility would be guarded by only a handful of incompetent rent-a-cops that were probably kicked out of the TSA for riding through the x-ray machines late at night.

Remember how I said the characters had no back stories? What I meant was that they had no back stories to explain their motivations. Why are the cops corrupt to the point of robbing banks? Why are Michael and Marcus stuck doing jobs for the Russian-Jewish mob? Are Irina’s hired muscle really wearing yamakas? What exactly are they stealing and why is it important enough that the Israelis would release Irina’s murdering, mob-boss husband from Israeli prison? Seriously, they’re wearing yamakas?

If the movie had any kind of redeeming quality (besides some very nice ass cheeks), it was nice watching Mackie, Ejiofor, and Winslet playing against type. For all the lack of compelling writing, the performances were solid, accents notwithstanding. But, again, in today’s current climate, I don’t know who this movie is for. The folks expecting a good heist movie are going to be very disappointed and everybody else is just going to be wondering how they ended up here instead of at Deadpool.

Rating: Ask for all but two dollars back. Triple 9 is probably worth a Redbox rental, but only if your first three choices are out of stock.

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