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Triple 9 is a superior crime drama, a riveting action thriller with an engaging moral compass and an excellent cast that elevates the material. Set in the middle of a crime ring, the film follows a group of dirty cops lead by Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofer) pulling off a heist for a Russian mob boss (Kate Winslet). But when a clean cop (Casey Affleck) is brought into the mix when he’s partnered with a dirty cop (Anthony Mackie), morals and motivations are questioned in a breakneck finale.

While it’s a story that has been seen before, the excellent cast makes the film better. Casey Affleck is a natural lead, and makes for a likable lead in a film full of despicable characters. As the team of crooks, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie, Cliff Collins Jr., and Norman Reedus make for a great team of antagonists, though they all have a great three dimensional nature that makes the story more engaging. Woody Harrelson also makes for great comic relief, and Kate Winset adds a great sense of menace as the film’s main villain.

Although the violence is shocking and extreme at points, it’s all for a purpose, and the story has enough twists and turns to be exciting throughout. Most importantly however, there’s a genuine interest in these characters, and the development of them throughout makes the story more accessible. Rocketing to a killer finale with some great action, John HIllcoat has made a winner with Triple 9. Grade: B+