Triple 9 movie full length review - Dearly departed
John Hillcoat, of 'The Proposition', 'The Road', 'Lawless' tries his hand at something like 'The Town', 'The Departed', 'Heat', 'Inside Man', 'Thief' and 'Brooklyn's Finest',
and comes out on top, with a fantastic ensemble including Casey Affleck (not as much to do as initially surmised, though the irony of the movie's title is played out with his, and other important characters), Chiwetel Ejiofor (going for broke with letting it all go, rather than play the calm/collected soul he's become typecast with thus far), Anthony Mackie (chewing the scenery for a change - coiled snake ready to spring kinda thing), Woody Harrelson (actually chewing up all the scenery around, right from the first intro sequence with him and his necktie), Kate Winslet (German-Russian accent), Aaron Paul (On 'Speed' for most of the time, not 'needing' it anymore) and Gal Gadot (who gets more runtime than Norman Reedus, and though Gadot is relatively more easy on the eyes, I could've done with more Reedus on screen), but the bulk of the heavy-lifting going to the severely underrated Clifton Collins Jr. (more on that in a bit).
The score, camera work and cinematography complement the flick perfectly and only serve the whole.
What's with (and I mean this in a nice, good way) the great Hillcoat being able to adeptly deal with illustrious ensemble casts, every bleeding time ('Proposition' and 'Lawless' both had eclectic ensemble casts)? Everyone brings nothing but their A-game to the table, and that's what's always needed, rather than just paycheck work.
Filmmakers could borrow a page or 2 from this movie of his (not just his older ones) on characterization and such.
However, as with most of the flicks I looked forward to watching this year, dreaded to visit the cinema for doing that, and finally ended up burning my hard-early moolah in any case, my theatrical viewing was consistently/frequently made tortuous due to the heavy- handed visual/aural edits made, that, on occasion, excised entire sentences, not to mention all of the nudity and most of the gory violence. If one thought that watching similarly excised versions of Deadpool and Hateful 8 were painful experiences in the recent past, not to mention '45 Years', they have to watch this one at the local cinema, and it's a completely different, nee, depressing experience, to put it mildly.
If I were to review this version of the movie that was, I'd give it -1/10. However, if I were to imagine those phrases and visuals magically present, I'd give it a 9, since this is the flick that I've been waiting for William Monahan to write, and Scorsese to direct, after their remake of 'Infernal Affairs'.
Casey Affleck has been having the run of great characters to chose from, but, to be fair, this is not his flick. Like I mentioned earlier, it belongs to characters played by Ejiofor, Collins Jr. and Harrelson, ably supported by the likes of Mackie and Paul.
Teresa Palmer, another Kristen Stewart lookalike, is in a thankless role, but has been ubiquitous this year, what with the crappy 'Choice' and the decent 'Point Break' remake.
Gal Gadot does something remarkable, that I've never seen her do before.
We've all seen Winslet lose herself in her roles, and this one's no different, but Gadot fares better compared to her, with her characterization.
Michael Kenneth Williams (Wire's Omar) is woefully underused, but surprises in his 1 scene. Where are the meaty roles for this guy?
Now, to the one who's finally got one of the most meatiest roles of his career, perhaps without meaning to? Considering he's nowhere in the trailers or features prominently in the credits, this is a remarkable feat, as in recognizing the man's presence and talent finally! I remember Clifton Collins Jr. mostly from 'Traffic' and 'Capote' (and also from 'Sunshine cleaning' and 'Babel'), and always thought he got a raw deal. Here's to hoping this is a precursor of good things to come for this talented actor.
The score has been spoken about, but Atticus Ross makes the one in this unique, and it soars, in spite of the censors-induced crappy sound-design (actually, the sound designers could sue the conservative editors of this flick and other such works). Even the end credits track (Pigs) that plays in 2 of the movie's trailers, deserves special mention, building the mood effectively.
Glad they finally used Atlanta (or what passed for it) instead of sticking to NY/LA/NO/Boston etc. The on-location production design is serviceable, and adds an element of local flavor to the goings- on.
One of the best things? It neatly wraps up all its threads, and does not leave anything hanging. Love it when they're considerate that way. Thanks to writer Cook and director Hillcoat.
There are 2 sequences that introduce and keep piling on a strong feeling of dread in the audience (that has no clue how each will turn out eventually), that offer something unique to the ravaged-by- now thriller genre, that seems to be revitalized by this work, and the works of Denis Villeneuve (with this comparing favorably to both of Villeneuve's works - his excellent 'Prisoners' and 'Sicario' - and though 'Enemy' belongs to a different genre, it did pile on the dread-factor too).
Having said that though, and this is a hardcore spoiler of sorts for 1st time viewers, but only for those who've also seen many in this genre, along with Monahan-Scorsese's 'Departed', like I was, knowing about that kinda takes the punch away from the ending of this powerful little flick. I admit being a little surprised at some of the twists that came earlier, but the ending did not surprise, given the context elaborated on above.
All in all, a fantastic viewing, if you are not saddled with the edited version.