TRIPLE 9. For a crime thriller released in the off season, Triple 9 has a remarkably A-list cast, most of which does an admirable job in service of a movie that doesn't quite know what it's doing. Still, it propels forward as a very watchable story with some panache, courtesy of director John Hillcoat (The Road, and the outstanding The Proposition).
Starting with a broad-daylight bank heist, the film gets right down to the curious business of the story, including the bloodless caper and the five men — a pair of corrupt cops and three criminals — who pull it off. Things take off from there, but in too many directions at once.
The crew is working under the blackmail demands of Russian mobsters, headed up by the ruthless Irina (Kate Winslet), who demand another job. Terrell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has a son with Irina's sister Elena, and thus is under considerable pressure when he's asked to steal files from a Department of Homeland Security facility. The movie's title refers to police code for an officer down, which is key to the scheme: The crew will use the downed police officer to divert the local cops. But that doesn't work as planned.
Besides Ejifor and Winslet, the crowd of talent on hand includes Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Norman Reedus (The Waking Dead) among the bad guys. Then there's Casey Affleck, who while no one was paying much attention, has suddenly arrived as a pretty damn good actor. Here he is Chris Allen, a brash rookie cop who's smarter than his partner fully understands and who's looking to make his bona fides in a tough division. He's also the nephew of flashy, rules-defying major crimes unit veteran Jeffrey, played by Woody Harrelson, who runs with some of the flair he picked up in HBO's True Detective.
It's often observed that "there's a good movie in there somewhere," but that doesn't quite cover Triple 9. At times, it's almost like watching clips from three different good movies, all interesting stories we'd like to delve into and aren't getting enough of. Hillcoat wants us to see the big canvas of crooks and cops and others, and he does a great job with the finely shot Atlanta sequences, but we're not left with enough story to grasp onto. Michael K. Williams (The Wire) and Ejiofor are notably great, and how can one not like Oscar winner Kate Winslet as the cold-hearted, long-nailed, Russian-Israeli mob matriarch? Though, as she speaks lines like, "My sister's ass, it is a great one," you're left to wonder what might have been. R. 106m. BROADWAY.
GODS OF EGYPT. Wondering a few minutes into a movie if it's a) based on a video game or b) a Marvel or DC property is just one of those modern movie-going experiences, and knowing the answer in advance gives some good context for the storytelling that's about to ensue.
And then there are things like Gods of Egypt. Nothing's wrong with using the pantheon of ancient Egyptian mythology as a jumping-off point, but if you want an example of Hollywood execs running out of ideas between hurling kale-infused smoothies at their assistants, look no further than this debacle. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones and is capable of so much more than this, plays Horus, who teams up with mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites) to foil the nefarious doings of Horus' brother Set (Gerard Butler). Other Egyptian gods and goddesses like Osiris, Isis and Hathor (Elodie Yung) make appearances along the way.
Gods of Egypt makes plenty of half-hearted and Scottish-accented attempts at moving the story along, but in the end, it's mostly about giant talking sphinxes (OK, stumping them with riddles is kinda cool), the not-that-interesting fact that Egyptian gods and goddesses are a few feet taller than mortals and that the movie features a really, really tall obelisk. PG13. 107m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, FORTUNA.
— David Jervis
For showtimes, see the Journal's listings at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Richards' Goat Miniplex 630-5000.
45 YEARS. Charlotte Rampling plays a woman whose anniversary celebration is overshadowed by the specter of her husband's long dead first love. PG. 108m. BROADWAY.
LONDON HAS FALLEN. Gerard Butler returns as a Secret Service agent saving Aaron Eckhart's presidential bacon from terrorists, gunfire and the exploding landmarks of London. PG13. 127m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS: ANIMATED. All the nominees plus a few more. RICHARDS' GOAT.
OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS: LIVE ACTION. All the nominees. RICHARDS' GOAT.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT. Tina Fey plays a reporter who lands her boots on the ground in Kabul in this war-zone comedy. R. 111m. BROADWAY.
ZOOTOPIA. An animated animal take on the odd-couple buddy movie with Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin and Idris Elba. PG. 108m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
DEADPOOL. A bloody, clever, distinctly adult Marvel vehicle for Ryan Reynolds' weird charisma. A fun break from the steady flow of grim comic adaptations. R. 108m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
EDDIE THE EAGLE. A picked-last underdog (Taron Egerton) makes the British ski jump team with the help of a grumpy pro (Hugh Jackman). PG13. 106m. BROADWAY.
KUNG FU PANDA 3. Jack Black returns to voice the buoyant Dragon Master, who reunites with his bio dad and trains fellow pandas to fight a supernatural villain. An enjoyable take on the hero's journey with some genuinely pretty animation. PG. 95m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
THE LADY IN THE VAN. Maggie Smith stars as the eccentric and troubled woman who parked in playwright Alan Bennett's van for 15 years. PG13. 104m. BROADWAY.
RACE. Pleasant though toothless biopic about Jesse Owens' Olympic triumph. PG13. 134m. MILL CREEK.
THE REVENANT. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a frontier survivor Hell-bent on revenge in a gorgeous, punishing Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu film that offers little beyond beauty and suffering. R. 156m. FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
RISEN. Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton play Romans on the hunt for Jesus' body after the crucifixion, hoping to dispel resurrection theories. R. 107m. BROADWAY.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. The writing and visuals are a bit too faithful to the original, but they work in this nostalgic return. Leads John Boyega and Daisy Ridley are as compelling as more familiar faces. PG13. 135m.
THE WITCH. Raw, relatable performances and smoldering dread propel this willfully grim Puritan horror film. The menacing aesthetic and psychological uncertainty build, but don't pay off as they should. R. 93m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill