FlixChatter Review: John Hillcoat’s TRIPLE 9 (2016)

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I’m a big fan of crime action thrillers of the 70s, 80s and 90s, so I was excited to see this new film by Aussie director John Hillcoat. As we all know, the last decade or so the superhero genre has been dominating the box office so crime action thrillers are rarity these days.

The movie opens with a bank robbery that didn’t go as smoothly as planned. The bank robbers weren’t there to steal money but a case in the safe box. In a pretty impressive opening action sequence, the robbers were able to escape unscathed. We then learned that two of the robbers named Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Jorge Ridriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) are cops and one is an ex-cop named Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul). The rest of the robbers are ex-military men named Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Russell Welch (Norman Reedus). They were tasked to steal something very important for a Russian mob boss named Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet, sporting a very 80s hairdo and weird Russian accent). Irina has a sister named Elena (Gal Gadot), who happens to be Atwood’s ex-girlfriend.

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After Atwood delivered the steal goods to Irina, she told him that she has another job for him and his team. Atwood of course wasn’t interested but Irina told him she won’t pay him for the job he’d just finished unless he gets the second one done. With no other choice, Atwood got his team together again and try to come up with a plan to make the biggest heist of their lives. We then were introduced to a detective named Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), he’s in charge of finding the bank robbers. Allen has a nephew named Chris (Casey Affleck) who’s also a cop and Belmont’s new partner. As the story progresses we learned more about each of these characters and how they’re all some-how connected and we found out meaning of the movie’s title.

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With so many well known actors in one movie, I wasn’t sure if they’re all going to get enough screen time, but to my surprise all of the big players got equal screen time and they played their respectively role quite well. This is the kind of movie that doesn’t really have a central character you want to “cheer” for, each of the characters has their own motivation and there’s no good or bad guy in the story. I had my doubts about Casey’s casting as the supposed “hero” of the story but his character played a central role in the plot and he’s pretty convincing.

John Hillcoat is one of my favorite newer directors and he didn’t disappoint with his direction for this movie. He staged some pretty good action sequences including his signature bloody violence. What really impressed me was how he avoided making the movie into a super dark and serious tone that has plagued most action movies the last few years. This movie feels like a thriller from the 80s and 90s.


Even though I was very impressed with the performances and direction of the movie, I had some problems with the script. Matt Cook is a newcomer in Hollywood and I was surprised his script didn’t get rewrites or more polished by other screenwriters. The story is filled with so many layers that I think a well-established screenwriter could’ve made it into a great script. I’m not saying that Cook’s script is bad just that it needed a lot of fixing. My biggest beef with the script was how the story wrapped so neatly by the movie’s end. I won’t spoil anything but if you saw The Departed then you’ll know what I mean when you see this movie.

Triple 9 is a well made action thriller that could’ve been a classic had the script been more polished. Fans of the buddy cop action and crime thrillers from the 80s and 90s will be pleased with it.

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Have you seen TRIPLE 9? Well, what did you think?

Five for the Fifth: FEBRUARY 2016 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

TheChoice1. Well, it’s February and V-day is next weekend. It seems that there are always a slew of romance-themed films coming out in February — and it’s the month that’s undoubtedly cornered by Nicholas Sparks. He’s got yet another one of his romance drivel drama out called The Choice, and it made me realize that I’ve only seen ONE film based on his books, The Notebook and since then I have no desire to see another project of his again.

Heck I’d rather watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ten times over before I rent, oh I dunno, Dear John? [Interestingly enough, the actor who’s in the choice was in Seth Grahame-Smith’s crazy mashup Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, ahah] But hey, obviously Sparks must’ve strike a chord with people otherwise his movies won’t continually get made.

So out of curiosity, do you like Nicholas Sparks’ movies? 
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2. Speaking of February, glad there are definitely alternatives to romantic films. Yes I know many of you are excited for Deadpool [which I had just watched last night], but another movie out later this month that’s somehow escaped me is Triple 9. My goodness, how in the world have I not blogged about this movie before? This is a movie I’d watch just for the cast! Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr. and Aaron Paul. Check out the character posters below:

A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.

Check out the trailer:


Now granted I haven’t seen any of director John Hillcoat‘s films yet (The Proposition, Lawless, The Road) which all sound so dark and bleak, but I’m looking forward to seeing this one. I always love a good heist movie!

Will you be watching Triple 9? 

3. Apparently February 4 is PIXAR’s 30th Birthday!


Since 1986, Pixar has made so many great animated classics, most have stand the test of time. There are 16 total Pixar films so far, three of them are sequels (per Wiki). With the exception of Cars, Cars 2 and the latest one, The Good Dinosaur, I have seen ALL of Pixar movies and pretty much love them all in varying degrees. Though I’ve been watching Pixar films for a couple of decades, it’s cool that some people have just discovered them. Jordan just posted his review of Inside Out which he loved, and he’s never seen a Pixar movie since he was a kid.

Now, would you name three of your absolute favorite Pixar movies? 
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4. I’m so bummed that I missed Hail, Caesar! press screening last Tuesday thanks to the darn snow storm. Now, I’m not one of those people who anticipate the Coens’ movie every time it comes out, but I couldn’t wait to see this one so we’ll definitely go see it on Friday night.

I was reading an interview with the Coens on Variety and one of the questions was the frequent collaborations with the same people. Ethan said they’ve done four films with George Clooney and three with Josh Brolin, and probably a dozen with Joel’s wife Frances McDormand.

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The Coens on set w/ Josh Brolin & George Clooney

Here’s Ethan’s answer as to why they tend to work with the same actors:

It’s a combination of things. Personally liking them figures into it. You got to not only work with them, but also have lunch; you’re spending time with them. When they are good at what they do, you want to spend more time with them. It’s self-perpetuating. But frankly, it’s also a bit of a crutch. If you know them well, you think: “What would be interesting for them to play?”

I personally don’t mind the frequent collaborations of the Coens and some of his actors. Some other fruitful director/actor collaborations I like are Christopher Nolan + Michael Caine/Christian Bale, Wes Anderson + Bill Murray and Ridley Scott + Russell Crowe, just to name a few. But even after three films, I’m already sick of seeing David O. Russell movies with Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence combo [shrug]

What director/actor collaborations you think you’d never grow tired of?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Tiffany from Presents from the Past blog! It’s a site dedicated to modern reimaginings of the fashion and beauty of period dramas, so naturally her question revolves around costume design.

Some of her favorite costumes are from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the TV movies Lady Chatterly’s Lover and The Go Between. Click each thumbnail to see a larger image:


For me personally, since I’m also a big fan of period dramas, I LOVE Carey Mulligan’s clothes in Far from the Madding Crowd, especially this one:

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So which 2015 film(s) you think have the best costumes?


Well, that’s it for February 2016 edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

THIS JUST IN! John Hillcoat’s ‘Lawless’ Trailer

The first time I heard about this movie was when there’s news circulating about Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy clashing on the set and got into a bar brawl. Now, I don’t really care about what’s really going on between those two, but the movie they’re working on does sound intriguing. Formerly called The Wettest County in the World, which is a bad title but at least not as generic as this new one, is one of those movies I’d watch just for the cast! Besides the two I’ve mentioned, we’ve got Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain!

Now check out the brand new trailer:

Hardy, LaBeouf and Jason Clarke play three brothers who find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. The story is based on the true-life tales of Matt Bondurant’s own grandfather and great-uncles, who were the inspiration of the events in his novel The Wettest County in the World.

Man, that’s a pretty intense trailer! I’m guessing this’ll be a hard R like most of Hillcoat’s previous films, i.e. The Proposition, The Road. The Aussie director seems to have a penchant for the utterly dark and bleak stuff. I do like the setting in the Prohibition era, there’s something so riveting about that period and the true-story aspect of it certainly adds to the intrigue.

I think we can expect some fine performances as well as some really bad ass shoot-outs! Hardy looks like he’d steal the show here, but LaBeouf actually doesn’t look too bad. I think he gets a bad rap after Transformers like R-Patz with Twilight, but I think he’s got potential. The main draw for me are Hardy and Chastain whose career are stratospheric to say the least, as well as the two veterans Oldman and Pearce, the latter is barely recognizable here with that hideous haircut. We’ll see who’ll be chewing the scenery the most between those two.

This movie will be premiering in 2012 Cannes Film Festival this May, and the US release date is set for August 31.


What do you think of this trailer? Will you be watching this one?