Review: Triple 9

“The monster has gone digital,” warns Woody Harrelson in a fashion that only Mr. Harrelson can. As bedraggled detective cleaning up the mess of a bank manager whose vault was just not only breached in a daylight heist, but documents of his families whereabouts are left behind by the thieves as a threat. Triple 9 is a gritty fusion of the dirty cop drama, and the ‘one last job’ thriller. Mostly it feels like the last hurrah of the ensemble heist film. With GPS, closed circuit cameras, and other omnipresent technologies, pulling off a smash-and-grab bank job seems as foolish as grabbing a few strapped stacks on impulse on the way out the door only to find them loaded with dye packs.

John Hillcoat, the hard-boiled Australian behind gritty outback western The Proposition, apocalyptic father-son survival tale The Road, and family bootlegger drama, Lawless, is determined to make his audience wallow in the complex cesspool of crime and law-enforcement of inner city Atlanta. The gangs are bad, at one point a trio of severed heads sit idly on the hood of a classic automobile, but the militarized police force is worse. Hillcoat has always been interested in the messy outcomes of complex (and not so complex) masculinity, and he has a fine ensemble of bold character actors, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Clifton Collins Jr. and Norman Reedus, a squad consisting of active and ex-police and marines who are in deep with, of all things, an orthodox Jewish faction of Russian mafia.

Sporting Star-of-David bling and exceptionally big hair, Kate Winslet’s thickly accented Irina Vlaslov is tougher than any of these compromised men as she tightens the screws on in a way that is reminiscent of Kristin Scott-Thompson’s angry-icicle matron in Only God Forgives. She has leverage on these men in a manner too convoluted to get into here, but suffice it to say that the strength of Triple 9 is that of a pot-boiler par excellence. As the plot vacillates between criminal brotherhood and domestic drama, neither in great detail, there is nevertheless an undertow towards finding out what is going to happen next.

As Harrelson’s pot-smoking, half-drunk super-cop offers advice and sniffs the air for the schemes of dirty cops, Ejoifor tries to get his Ex (a wasted Gal Gadot) to share custody of their son, and Paul continues to break bad, it is Casey Affleck who quietly steals the film as a rookie cop that is somehow both naive and world-weary (welcome to the 21st century folks.) In a different film, Affleck would be front and centre, here he blends into the background until he does not, his performance is a coup of sorts, a combination of acting talent, and directional choices.

There are some who might suggest that this would all work better in the ubiquitous long-form TV format, but I disagree. Sometimes there is a case to be made for a smaller dose of something. Triple 9’s familiar, yet akimbo, clusterfuck of organizations and individuals (with a dash of geopolitics?) has just enough visual panache – a grimy 35mm aesthetic with occasional splotches of bright pink – combined with its ensemble of abundance to pass muster as termite art. It is the kind of adult entertainment, along with the far more thoroughbred Sicario and far, far more abstruse The Counselor, that has been on the endangered species list from movie studios for some time. It is well worth spotting these rare beasts in the wild before they are gone.

Trailer #2 for John Hillcoat’s Triple 9

Here is faster paced, more plot and character heavy UK trailer for the increasingly awesome looking new John Hillcoat picture, Triple 9. A collection of corrupt cops attempt a massive heist, and to distract the rest of the cities branches of law enforcement, they plan to murder one of their fellow officers to create a ‘999’ call which would have most of the police in the city converge in a location as far away the robbery as possible. Featuring the very well stocked cast of Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackey, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr., and Kate Winslet.

Triple 9 hits US theatres in February 2016, and apparently the European market will get a chance to see it as well, albeit no release date is indicated in the trailer.

Trailer: Triple 9

This little slice of nastiness from John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road), a director who knows his way around balancing bleak and heart, looks to be pushing the envelope of Sicario and Training Day as far as it can go.

Triple 9 has elements of the militarization of police, the war of attrition with crime and violence (severed heads abound), and everyone thrown into the blender. Props to whoever came up with the kids ‘this little piggie’ to score this trailer, because it is damn effective with the imagery on display.

The cast is beyond stacked: Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackey, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr., and somewhere in there is Kate Winslet. All stuck in John Hillcoat’s murky grime. I cannot wait to wade into this urban warzone in February 2016.

Review: Need for Speed

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Director: Scott Waugh
Screenplay: George Gatins, John Gatins
Producers: John Gatins, Patrick O’Brien, Mark Sourian
Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbertson, Dakota Johnson, Michael Keaton
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 130 min.


At some point, someone is going to have to explain to me what the appeal is of running in a race where the prize is five cars, most of which don’t even make it to the finish line. I can understand that in the case of Need for Speed’s Tobey (Aaron Paul), the race is far more personal but otherwise, what’s the point? Bragging rights? I’m not sure I’d be bragging about being arrested at the end of a race and the last time I checked, a Ferrari that has exploded into a fireball has the same value as a pinto that has exploded into a fireball: that would be zero.

Based on Electronic Art’s long running video game franchise, the movie adaptation basically takes a bunch of really awesome cars and gives people a reason to drive around in them at high speeds and perform ridiculous stunts. The story pits Tobey, a struggling garage owner, against Dino (Dominic Cooper), a successful race car driver and dealership owner whose business isn’t doing as well as he outwardly suggests. The beef gets deeper when Tobey and Dino are in a race that ends with a death. Tobey goes to prison and comes out a few yeas later determined to get his revenge by claiming a spot on the winner-takes-all race organized by a mysterious character simply known as Monarch (Michael Keaton occasionally channelling Beatlejuice – not to mention a blunt homage to Vanishing Point) and, of course, winning the race and in the process maybe knocking Dino down a couple of pegs.

Would you like to know more…?

“Weird” Al Biopic Trailer

Much to the dismay of friends and loved ones I am a huge “Weird” Al Yankovic fan. It never fails; if “King of Pain” comes on the radio, I loudly and proudly sing the correct lyrics of “King of Suede”. Same goes for “I Think I’m a Clone Now” or “Theme from Rocky XIII” or any other of his parodies. His originals are pretty damn good too. The guy owns 3 Grammys and his concert is one of the more elaborate, well thought out and fun times you’re ever going to see a musical artist put together. Put simply: genius. Whacky, misunderstood, nerdy genius; but genius nonetheless.

Thanks to Funny or Die today, a mock trailer was made up for a movie that I totally wish was real, of Al’s “life.” Granted this has sort of already been done with The Dewey Cox Story, but nevertheless, some great casting in here including Patton Oswalt, Gary Cole and Mary Steenburgen.

Two words: “EAT IT!”

 
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