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John Hillcoat on Crime Thriller “Triple 9”

John Hillcoat, Director of such movies as the Road and Lawless, recently spoke to's Under the Radar about his new movie Triple 9 (which we talked about a few months ago). The film was apparently written by a military veteran of Iraq, which we hadn't realized, and centers on protagonists who are SOF (Special Operations Forces) veterans. Although some of Hillcoat's misnomers will understandably draw the ire of purists and the detail-oriented (he refers to an Atlanta police “tank” for instance) and the references to PTSD and the “militarization of police” are somewhat predictable, it's interesting to read his thoughts.

Says Hillcoat,

The script was written by Matt Cook, an ex-military guy who has actually served in Iraq. He saw a lot of action. In fact he lost three quarters of his platoon in the first firefight that they had.

Matt had a friend who was a cop, who told him about the Triple 9. That just raised the potential for quite a moral conundrum. The whole criminal landscape in America and globally has changed and A lot of criminal gangs, the Latino cartels and the Russian/Israeli mob and groups like that, have actual paramilitary backgrounds. So that ramped up the stakes. And the higher the stakes, the more prone people are to corruption.

Triple 9

What Matt tried to bring in is the way that the police force has really changed over the years because of the war. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of military guys come back and have no proper support and are looking for where they should go from here. We wanted to be very truthful about that.

A lot of these guys have crossed a line that’s very hard to return. They’re looking for the action and where the action is. You can’t just erase your experience.

The training is so profound with cops and military, they rely on the person next to them. Matt explained to me how deep and important that bond is. I wanted to represent that in the story and be truthful about that, the way that even the characters that have moved on and become police and have become corrupted still actually struggle with what they’re doing because of that training and that moral conundrum.

Read the rest of Jim Barber's interview with John Hillcoat right here.

John Hillcoat - Triple 9

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