Triple 9 Review

We’re in the dead zone of cinema at the time of writing. All the Oscar/BAFTA/Golden Globes nominations have come and gone through the theatres and now we’ve got a hard slog until the middle of March (March is when the releases start getting good again). But, as I always try and get a film reviewed once a week, here is the film that interested me the most. I give you Triple 9.

Triple 9 stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson and is directed by John Hillcoat. The films follows a group of dirty cops who to pull off an impossible heist, decide to commit a Triple 9, the radio call for an “officer down” to distract the police force.

While the script is pretty poor, the cast list is pretty good. As well as the four big names mentioned above, the supporting roles are also filled with great actors and actresses. Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul, Cilfton Collins Jr. and Gal Gadot all do their best with what is a weak script. There is no lines that stick in my mind, but all the actors manage to perform well.

The film starts with a heist and it has some great tracking shots through the bank. While it might never reach the heights of Heat or Public Enemies (both directed superbly by Michael Mann) it still manages to be tense and adrenalin-fuelled. The climax of the scene is an escape on the freeway, while red clouds of smoke (from tainted bills swiped during the robbery) billow out of the escape vehicle. It’s a great opening to the film and captures the feel of the film in a few minutes.

While the film is generally a thriller, the rest of the action is of merit. A raid on a drug-dealers house that eventually spills out into a running gun battle through the streets is exciting, with gunshots coming from all around. The police officers are confused from where they are being shot from and so are we. Another more downbeat action scene, which involves Casey Affleck’s straight cop Chris trying to track Anthony Mackie’s dirty cop Gabe through a dilapidated housing project, despite there not being much action on screen is still very enjoyable to watch. It feels almost like a horror film, as we jump at shadows that could be a violent end for our protagonist.

One thing I did like about Triple 9 was that the film was set in Atlanta. Originally it was to be set in Los Angeles but I’m glad it wasn’t. We’ve seen L.A. in so many films before (it’s also the setting for Heat, just to keep the comparisons coming), it gets kind of repetitive. We see several different locations throughout the film and all of them are varied. The abandoned housing complex is really well visualised and is unlike anything I’ve seen in a similar film. It’s just a light touch to change the setting but it pays dividends.

The film has its faults. I already talked about the weak script, but in general the story is your average heist affair, with nothing really standout. The crooked cops might have been a fresh take, but the film never explains how or why they started robbing banks, which would have added some character to the rather bland protagonists. And as a final point, the film runs for a lot longer than it needs to. The film is brushing at two hours, when really it could have been fine at closer to ninety minutes. I checked my watch a few times in the final half hour and could see a good deal that could have been cut.

In summary, Triple 9 is your average thriller. It doesn’t get to heights of films such as End Of Watch or Sicario, but in a month of slow releases, it’s a fine choice.

Score: 7/10 Nothing new, but still enjoyable.

Steve Jobs Review

Back in 2013, there was a Steve Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher playing the titular man. Even with having one of the most influential men of the late 20th century as its subject matter, the film bombed both critically and commercially, despite a good performance by Kutcher. Can director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin come together to give Steve Jobs the film he deserves?

Steve Jobs stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan and Jeff Daniels and is directed by Danny Boyle. The film follows Steve Jobs (Fassbender) behind the scenes of his three most famous PC demonstrations, the Mascintosh, The NeXT and the iMac, as well as the backroom deals that lead to him leaving the company.

While I would have thought the three-act structure, each featuring similar set-ups would have grown tired quickly (how many variations can you think of what amounts to a tech demo?), I was thoroughly surprised how each one managed to feel completely different. Aaron Sorkin (of The Social Network and Moneyball fame) brings a totally unique way of viewing Jobs’ life, through these three distilled fragments instead of a traditional narrative, and it completely fits the film. While some of the character interactions in the films feel a bit contrived, with the main players in Apple Inc. reappearing at each tech demo, the film manages to keep it together, even joking at how contrived one scene near the end is.

Sorkin’s script is a shining point in the film, with his signature quick-fire dialogue making certain scenes a joy to watch. I wouldn’t have thought that a film about creating computers would have been interesting to listen to, and even thought the film is full of ports, routers, modems and other jargon, it’s still incredibly compelling. The back and forth between Jobs and his aide Joanna Hoffman, as well as the verbal sparring between Jobs and the mother of his child allow the actors to show off their range, but the scenes that I had the most enjoyment were the exchanges between Jobs and Andy Hertzfeld, an original Mac Team engineer, as they try and fix the Macintosh before the reveal. Throughout these scenes, Jobs demeans and undermines Hertzfeld, who just has to grit his teeth and go along with it if he wants to keep his job.

The acting by all is remarkable. Michael Fassbender is on a roll in 2015, with another excellent performance under his belt. He portrayal of Jobs is very different from the charismatic public speaker that was usually seen. Here, we get an almost psychopathic artist, who knowingly screwed over several of his co-workers, showing us a much darker side to the CEO. Kate Winslet as Job’s confidante Joanna Hoffman is good, and she is almost unrecognisable underneath her dark hair and thick glasses. Seth Rogan, known for his comedic roles breaks typecasting as Steve Wozniak, Apple’s original co-founder, coming off as a shy and quite nerdy character. There is even a surprising turnaround performance by Rogan in the third act where Wozniak explodes at Jobs.

My only real problem with Steve Jobs is that for all the build up and rehearsals of the unveiling of the new computers that had been designed, we never see the reveals. While these were obviously not integral to the story, it would have been a nice addition given how much the film hyped up these scenes. My eyelids did drop at one point during the third act but my interest in the story kept me awake to see it till the end.

In conclusion, Steve Jobs has everything, a great cast list, a seasoned director and a script written by one of the greatest living screenwriters today. Criminally, the film has been pulled from several showings to due to its poor response in America, but if you are able to get to a showing, I would highly recommend that you see Steve Jobs.

Score: 8/10 A gripping film, where we see the madness behind the man.