Action Blu-ray Review

'Triple 9' Blu-ray Review: A triple-A entertaining crime thriller

May 31, 2016Ben MK

With films like Lawless, The Road and The Proposition under his belt, director John Hillcoat is a filmmaker best known for period films (whether they be Westerns, Prohibition-era shoot-em-ups or post-apocalyptic dramas). As such, Triple 9 marks Hillcoat's first foray into the cinematic modern-day, a movie that tracks the intersecting paths of a collection of cops and criminals, each of whom find themselves linked by one common element: Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet), a ruthless Russian mob princess out to orchestrate her husband's release from prison.

To do so, she needs someone to pull off a pair of high-risk heists. And for that she turns to her nephew's father, former private security contractor Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor). But when the first heist goes sour, Michael and his crew — brothers Russell and Gabriel Welch (Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) and dirty cops Marcus Belmont and Franco Rodriguez (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jr.) — find themselves on the radar of veteran cop Jeff Allen (Woody Harrelson), whose idealistic nephew Chris (Casey Affleck) happens to be Marcus' new partner.

Scripted by first-time screenwriter Matt Cook, what follows can be deconstructed into a riveting series of shootouts, car chases and double-crosses, as the characters each try to "out-monster" one another to come out on top. Substituting Atlanta, Georgia for the often-used crime-drama setting of Los Angeles, California, Triple 9 borrows from films like Training Day, End of Watch and Harsh Times to paint a portrait of a city besieged by gang warfare and corruption, an urban battleground where there are few real good guys, but plenty of varying shades of bad.

Unfortunately, Triple 9 stumbles in its final act, as the narrative struggles to tie up loose ends and serve some of its key players their comeuppance. Luckily, any deficiencies in the otherwise taut script are more than compensated for by the movie's impressive cadre of on-screen talent, which also includes Gal Gadot and Teresa Palmer. Make no mistake, the movie definitely treads on familiar cinematic territory. But thanks to its thoroughly game cast, the result is so much more than just another entry in the testosterone-fueled, cops-and-robbers genre.

Triple 9's grainy 1080p image plays nicely into the film's gritty visual aesthetic, delivering a fair amount of detail, as well as robust colors, such as the red dye that explodes from bags of stolen money after a bank robbery gone wrong. The transfer also sports high contrast levels and deep blacks, the latter of which results in some noticeable black crush, which rears its head in several darker scenes. Otherwise, the film boasts an aggressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, filling the air with the sound of everything from Atticus Ross' ever-present electronic-industrial score, to the roar of motorcycle engines, blazes of gunfire, fiery explosions and wailing police sirens.

Elevation Pictures' one-disc Blu-ray release includes the following extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (7:54) - Four scenes ("Michael's First Kill," "Jeffrey Quits," "Jeffrey Finds Out About Leah" and "Michael's Death").
  • Under the Gun (2:43) - A quick promotional featurette that intercuts film clips and behind-the-scenes footage with clips of the actors talking in general about the film.
  • An Authentic World (2:41) - Another quick promotional featurette, this time with director John Hillcoat and the cast talking about the film's gritty realism.

Triple 9 is available from Elevation Pictures as of May 31st, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French DTS 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 56 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on February 26th, 2016.

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