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Casey Affleck moves closer to leading man status with “Triple 9”

Casey Affleck Triple-9

As much as this week is pretty much dedicated to the run up to the Academy Awards, we can’t completely forget about new releases, now can we? The most notable of which for this week is obviously Triple 9, which boasts an incredible cast from top to bottom, on par with any Oscar bait movie. Personally, I didn’t care for the film too much, but what it does sport is a leading man role for Casey Affleck, who is deserving of many more of these. He’s been knocking on the front door of the A-list for some time now, so hopefully it’s about to happen for him.

The film is a crime drama about desperate men. A group of ex military and/or current Atlanta cops are pulling off bank heists for the wife of a jailed Russian mob boss (Kate Winslet). When she informs their leader (Chiwetel Ejiofor) that a hit on a Homeland Security installment for something that could get her husband free is next, the group initially finds the request impossible. Then, one of the cops on the crew (Anthony Mackie) essentially offers up his straight laced new partner (Affleck) as bait. They’ll pull a “999”, which is code for officer shot, and kill him, sending every officer to that scene and leaving them to pull off the job. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. John Hillcoat directs a script from Matt Cook, while the cast, in addition to the aforementioned Affleck, Ejiofor, Mackie, and Winslet, includes Clifton Collins Jr., Gal Gadot, Woody Harrelson, Teresa Palmer, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Michael Kenneth Williams, and many more. A lot of them are wasted, frankly, but as mentioned above, it’s good to see Affleck get a leading man role.

I have a lot of problems with the movie, but the cast does give it the old college try. Winslet has fun with her part, though only Affleck really emerges completely unscathed. He plays it straight and doesn’t seem nearly as silly as the rest of the cast does when things fall apart. There’s a great procedural sequence during a search of a house that highlights the talent we know Hillcoat has as a filmmaker, but most of the time everyone falls short of the mark. Affleck comes off looking the best, but this definitely won’t be a project that will get him any kind of awards love, that’s for sure.

Speaking of that, Affleck is certain to be in play later on this year with Manchester by the Sea, which drew raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Armed with two studio projects in Triple 9 and the recently releases The Finest Hours, he’s having a moment. The indie awards contender could certainly put him over the edge. A second Academy Award nomination, this time in Best Actor, seems like it could easily happen for him, but could he win? That remains to be seen, but if he has the year I think he might, an Oscar perhaps isn’t too far out for him.

Overall, Triple 9 isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s a viewing option this weekend for those of you who are fans of someone in the cast, especially those of you who like Affleck (though Winslet hamming it up has an appeal too, I’m sure). It’s a forgettable flick, but it might be a part of the stew that turns Affleck into as big a star as his brother. Stay tuned to see how the rest of the year goes for him, as it could be his biggest one yet. As for the movie, well, you could probably do worse, though you can do better as well…

Triple 9 is in theaters everywhere on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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