Triple 9 follows a crew of dirty cops who have to pull off an impossible heist after being black mailed by the Russian mob, led by Irina (Kate Winslet). Along for the ride is Mike (Chiwetel Ejiofor), whose son is also being held by the mob, Marcus (Anthony Mackie), Gabe (Aaron Paul), Russell (Norman Reedus) and Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.). Realizing the difficulty of this heist the team decides they need to pull off a 999, the police code for "officer down," so all the police officers in town will be responding to the officer down leaving them free for the heist. Now the question is what officer is going to be their target? That question is answered when Chris (Casey Affleck) becomes Marcus' new partner.
Right off the bat the film sets up the intensity with a great heist sequence to get things started. From there until the end the film never lets up and keeps you on edge until the final shot. Director John Hillcoat has always done a good job of setting up tension very well in his previous films and carries that over to this film. He's also been able to get great performances out of his actors and here is no different, which comes as no surprise given this all-star cast.
Everybody in the cast does a great job in their roles and they are all what keeps the film going. Despite the writing and dialogue not being top notch here the performances thankfully are. While this is more of an ensemble piece our main protagonist is Casey Affleck, who does a fine job in the lead role. All the members of the heist crew do well with Ejiofor, Mackie and Collins Jr. getting the load of the work and each one of them handles their own. Aaron Paul unfortunately isn't given much to do and Norman Reedus doesn't have a lot of screen time but both are respectively good in their roles. The standouts here are definitely Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson. Winslet is menacing as the leader of the Russian mob and Harrelson brings a lot of charisma to his role as Chris' uncle and fellow detective.
While the film moves at a great pace and the acting is on point from the get go there are a few negatives that are worth mentioning. Like I mentioned before the writing here isn't spectacular but I've certainly seen worse in similar films. One aspect of the story that's hard to get behind are some of the characters you're supposed to feel sympathy for. The two characters the writers want you to root for are Chris and Mike. Chris is understandable because he's just the good cop trying to do his job the right way. However, when it comes to Mike it's really hard to get behind him. His intentions are good because he's doing bad things for the sake of getting his son back but he takes some things to the extreme and doesn't really seem he would be a very good father even if he were to get his son back.
With a few pratfalls here and there, Triple 9 is able to overcome them with great performances from a stellar cast, a compelling story and some really nice action set pieces.