A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Triple 9 is an Atlanta-set crime thriller about crooked cops, robbers, gangsters, and a (very) few honest cops. Violence is extremely tense, strong, and realistic, with guns and shooting, punching and fighting, blood and gore, and dead bodies, as well as explosions and crashes, severed heads, and a bag of bloody teeth. Language is also constant, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and much more. Topless women are shown, and both male and female naked bottoms. Characters smoke frequently and drink heavily; some characters are shown very drunk. Characters are also shown snorting and/or smoking unnamed hard drugs, and minor characters may be drug dealers. Though the movie is complex and filled with many shades of gray, it generally has a moral center: "Bad" characters eventually pay for their crimes, and "good" characters get to live to see another day.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Terrell Tompkins (Chiwetel Ejiofor) leads a team of professional criminals and crooked cops. He once married into a family of Russian-Jewish mobsters and now, in order to keep seeing his son, must placate their evil, ice-cold matriarch (Kate Winslet) by pulling off a nearly impossible robbery. Things become complicated when dirty cop Marcus Atwood (Anthony Mackie) gets a new partner, Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), a war veteran whose uncle (Woody Harrelson) is a sergeant detective on the force. The gang decides that, in order to pull off the job, they must cause a code 999 -- "officer down" -- to happen ... and that Chris is the perfect target. But another team member, Gabe (Aaron Paul), has been talking too much.
Is it any good?
Establishing himself as a director of tough genre films, John Hillcoat offers this multi-faceted, devilishly complex crime thriller without wasting any time on needless background. Ragged and colorful, TRIPLE 9 -- the title comes from the police code for "officer down" -- doesn't offer any expository background for its characters. What's there is observed and inferred through behavior and interaction; the characters come alive organically.
Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road, Lawless) does a remarkable job of juggling all the characters; even those with smaller roles have vivid personalities. But the complex plot can sometimes fall prey to the movie's melting-pot quality. It's easy to lose track of things. Likewise, the action sequences, while appropriately raw, have a reckless quality that might be disorienting. But this is a strong piece of work, rugged, sturdy, and entertaining in the best way.
Talk to your kids about ...
What role do sex and nudity play in the movie? Are characters objectified, or are they seen as loving partners? What message does that send?
How are characters painted in "shades of gray" here? Who are the "good guys" and "bad guys"? What sets them apart from each other? Are any of them role models?
- In theaters: February 26, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 31, 2016
- Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Casey Affleck
- Director: John Hillcoat
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and language throughout, drug use and some nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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