Year 9, Day 156 - 6/5/17 - Movie #2,651
BEFORE: Anthony Mackie completes a three-film run, carrying over from "Eagle Eye", and this was supposed to be the start of a similar Casey Affleck three-film run, but since I'm trying to extend the chain, I'll follow another path out of this one and circle back to Casey Affleck in a couple of days. I've got an opportunity to go to the movies tonight, since it's Monday, and nobody goes out to the movies on Monday except for me, and I found a way to review that film right away and still link back up with my chain. More on that tomorrow.
THE PLOT: 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.
AFTER: I had lunch at this little café today, actually it's not so little because it takes up the better part of a city block, with a large seating area and a buffet steam table, plus little stations that make Chinese food, Mexican food, sushi, wraps, pizza - just about anything, really. But I went for Chinese food today, and while the server was cooking up my sweet and sour chicken, he told me a joke about three Mexicans who take a ride in a cab, and the taxi driver decides to go really fast, and when he arrives at their destination the first guy gets out and thanks him for getting them home very quickly, and the second guy gets out and pays him really well for doing such a good job, and the third guy gets out and walks over and slaps the driver, saying "You're such a crazy driver, you could have killed us!"
Now, this joke didn't seem all that funny to me, but I laughed politely as they guy put the chicken over the lo mein and handed it to me. When I got back to the office I googled the joke, to see if it was just me, or maybe this guy was just really bad at telling jokes. I found the joke on a Reddit page, the way it's supposed to be told and yeah, this guy left out a couple of key ingredients - from the joke, not from my food. It's very important that the passengers in the cab are very drunk, and it's not so important that they're Mexican - they could be of any ethnicity, as long as they're drunk. Secondly, the cab driver decides to take advantage of their drunk state by starting the taxi's engine, but not putting the car into gear - he only PRETENDS to drive them really fast to their destination, the cab doesn't move forward at all. This way, it's FUNNY when the guy slaps the cab driver and says, "Be more careful next time, you drove so fast you almost killed us!"
And that's kind of how I feel about "Triple 9" - all of the elements are there for a good crime/heist story, but it feels like something's a bit off in the sequence, or maybe the timing. Because we find out, for example, that one of the bank robbers has a son, and the son's mother is the sister of the wife of the Russian crime boss. That's something that would have been really good to know earlier in the film, because if they're essentially holding his son as a hostage to make him do these crimes, then that could change how we feel about this character.
That's just one of the things that makes this story very complicated - if these guys are cops and also bank robbers, for example, am I supposed to root for them, or not? Another one of the corrupt cops is partnered with a rookie cop who just happens to be the nephew of the detective on the force who's investigating their bank robberies - that's another complication (or is it? I can't tell.) These cops want to cut their losses, but the Russian mob coerces them to do one more job, and they figure the easiest way to do this job is to cause a "Triple 9" situation - that's where an officer has been shot, and every available policeman is expected to head to his location and help out.
That's not a bad germ of an idea, even though that means that cops have to find a way to get a cop shot or even killed, and again, now this is another thing that could affect whether I root for them or not. I realize there are no perfect people, not even policemen, but this film seems to have more than its share of imperfect people, and therefore is very lean on actual heroes. But I guess a film about policemen doing their jobs well without incident would make for a boring movie by comparison.
My other problem came early in the film, when I couldn't distinguish between Aaron Paul's character and Casey Affleck's character - the two actors just resemble each other a little too much. I had to stop and read the film's plot on Wikipedia just to keep these two characters straight. The fact that most of the heist crew is seen masked for the first 10 or 15 minutes didn't help.
Also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (last seen in "Doctor Strange"), Casey Affleck (last seen in "Interstellar"), Woody Harrelson (last seen in "Now You See Me 2"), Aaron Paul (last seen in "Exodus: Gods and Kings"), Kate Winslet (last seen in "Sense and Sensibility"), Gal Gadot (last seen in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"), Clifton Collins Jr. (last seen in "Transcendence"), Norman Reedus (last seen in "Vacation"), Teresa Palmer (last seen in "Warm Bodies"), Michael Kenneth Williams (last seen in "Ghostbusters" (2016)), Michelle Ang, Terence Rosemore, Luis Da Silva Jr., Carlos Aviles, Ian Casselberry, Anthony Belevtsov.
RATING: 5 out of 10 flash-bang grenades