Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Di­rec­tor: John Hill­coat ( The Propo­si­tion) Star­ring: Kate Winslet, Woody Har­rel­son, Casey Af­fleck, Chi­we­tel Ejio­for, An­thony Mackie, Aaron Paul Ver­dict: No safety in this num­ber

THE ti­tle of this un­ortho­dox crime drama is coded Amer­i­can po­lice­s­peak for “of­fi­cer down”.

There are mo­ments aplenty in Triple 9 where view­ers may want to put out a dis­tress call on be­half of the movie.

How­ever, while its vi­tal signs might fluc­tu­ate wildly, there is a gritty re­solve to this tale that ul­ti­mately re­wards any per­se­ver­ance sent its way. There is just one pro­viso in play here, and for some, it could be a deal- breaker.

When faced with the choice be­tween clear, co­he­sive sto­ry­telling and murky, ma­li­cious at­mo­spher­ics, Aus­tralian di­rec­tor John Hill­coat ( Lawless, The Road) will go for the lat­ter ev­ery time.

We open in the city of At­lanta, where a bank rob­bery is al­ready un­der­way.

Th­ese crooks clearly know their in­di­vid­ual roles in the heist, which runs like clock­work un­til they hit the road in full get­away mode. How­ever, not even the sud­den ex­plo­sion of a dye bomb can throw th­ese pros off their game. Min­utes later, the group re­con­vene be­neath a free­way over­pass for a quick change of clothes and ve­hi­cles. As they swap notes over what just went down, it emerges th­ese are no or­di­nary crooks.

Most of them are po­lice of­fi­cers. A good few will be check­ing in for work down at HQ within the hour.

How­ever, if you think you’re in for just an­other cor­rupt- cop thriller, you’ve got an­other thing com­ing.

First of all, Triple 9 never quite works it­self into the fren­zied state of ac­tiv­ity that would jus­tify the tag of ‘ thriller’.

Se­condly, th­ese of­fi­cers of the law are not the ones pulling the strings in this top- se­cret op­er­a­tion. The brains of the out­fit is a for­eign crime baroness, and she is a real piece of work. Not only does Irina Vlaslov ( Kate Winslet with a thick Russki ac­cent) have the cops in town in her pocket. She also has sev­eral fed­eral agents on the pay­roll as backup.

Though Winslet is used spar­ingly as Triple 9’ s most vi­cious vil­lain, she does ex­ude a force field of men­ace that ex­plains how she can move At­lanta’s finest around as if they are pawns on a chess­board.

Winslet’s show- steal­ing per­for­mance is so vivid and fully re­alised that it can make the work of her fel­low ac­tors ( par­tic­u­larly the usu­ally solid Chi­we­tel Ejio­for) seem a bit un­struc­tured by com­par­i­son.

Woody Har­rel­son ( as a clean de­tec­tive who gets the inkling there are dirty rats in the ranks) and Casey Af­fleck ( an­other straight cop, but obliv­i­ous to his bent co­horts) sup­ply the strong­est work from an un­even sup­port cast.

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