Sidewinder’s View: Triple 9 (2016)


From early 2016, this afternoon’s movie, a $3.96 DVD I picked up at Wal-Mart this week.

I’d come across a clip from the movie on You Tube a few months ago, which involved a tactical police breach on a suspect’s apartment. The scene felt very well researched and depicted…

…but the movie barely got a theatrical release (*), which is odd, considering the A-list talent involved.

(*) Actually, it did get a decent release in terms of theater count, but like every other picture out that weekend, it had its ass kicked handily by Deadpool.

Triple 9 collage bo

Honestly, I don’t recall seeing any ads for Triple 9, or seeing any promotion of it online, in the weeks leading up to its theatrical release.

Made me wonder what the deal was. Did the movie have something wrong with it? Did it test poorly, so its distributor decided not to put any money into promoting it?

Until the last half hour or so, this was a really strong Action-Crime Drama, very suspenseful and exciting, but, by the time the story wrapped up, I found myself not really feeling invested in any of the characters or what was happening in the plot. The direction, the editing, the performances were all top-notch, but, by the end of the story, it seemed like something was missing.

I tend to blame the writing when movies turn out this way. Maybe the shooting script was longer, with more character material that wound up being hacked out to make for a running time under two hours.

At the end, the whole thing felt very superficial and perfunctory. Just another formula heist movie, featuring the usual, not too surprising plot twists and resolutions, with more emphasis on style over character. Very disappointing, because the first 90 minutes were really solid and satisfying.

I didn’t recognize Kate Winslet as the film’s de facto Russian mob boss (in the absence of her imprisoned husband, who’s the actual boss). The entire cast was outstanding, though Woody Harrelson had some weird-looking denture work that was a little distracting.

All in all, I thought the film was pretty good. Could have been better, perhaps, but not a bad buy for three bucks. I’ll more than likely watch it again, mostly because the action sequences in the movie were really well done and no one in the cast felt like they were phoning it in.

Sidewinder’s Pet Peeve Alert: The final robbery in the movie featured the bad guys incapacitating an entire DHS security force with a TASER CEW shotgun. Never mind that, in real life, field tests on the CEW shotgun by law enforcement agencies yielded such poor results that TASER (now Axon) discontinued manufacture of the weapon and sold all its remaining CEW shotgun inventory to the DOD (because the feds will buy anything, my instructor back in 2013 informed us).

The way this was depicted in Triple 9, the effects the CEW shotgun had on subjects, was utter BS. Every guard hit by one of these CEW shotgun probes reacted as if they’d just been stunned by a cattle prod, dazed and helpless, easily restrained by the robbers.

First of all, the CEW shotgun delivers a charge of only 500 volts.


A regular CEW carries an initial charge of 50,000 volts (but its amperage is very low). The reason for that high voltage is to bridge the air gap between a subject and their clothing, so as to make good contact and deliver a good cycle. The CEW shotgun, field tests showed, seldom bridged the air gap, due to the lower voltage.

Second of all, in actuality, the probe spread of the CEW shotgun’s projectile wasn’t broad enough to achieve NMI (neuro-muscular incapacitation), only direct pain. You get shot with one of these, it might hurt, but it won’t lock you up and knock you down.

According to my TASER-certified Master Instructor, law enforcement supposedly reported back to TASER that fleeing subjects hit with one of these 500-volt probes would more often than not, without missing a beat, continue running away with the projectile dangling off the back of their shirts.

Thirdly, with any kind of CEW, a subject is only incapacitated for as long as the cycle’s occurring, provided there’s solid probe contact and adequate spread. Once the cycle ends, if they so choose, a subject can jump up and run away, keep fighting, etc. It is not the same as getting hit with a cattle prod (much higher amperage) or sticking a screwdriver into a live wall outlet. The amperage of a CEW is much, much lower.

I can see why the makers of Triple 9 used the TASER CEW shotgun for their movie, though. It’s a cool idea and allowed the bad guys to do their dirty work in a non-lethal manner, rather than commit mass murder (like, say, the bank robbers in Heat), so as not to make the characters too morally repellent.

But no serious ex-military professional (as the lead robbery character in this movie is supposed to be) would rely on the TASER CEW shotgun to incapacitate armed guards during a high-stakes robbery. The weapon itself is simply not reliable, which is why TASER discontinued its manufacture and pawned its remaining inventory off on the DOD.