**1/2 (out of four)
DIRECTED BY John Hillcoat
STARS Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck in Triple 9 (Photo: Open Road)
Director John Hillcoat (the Down Under Western The Proposition) prefers to shoot extensively in the dark, which adds ambience but also occasionally results in images so dim, you wish an a.d. would hand him a flashlight already. Yet his staging is impressive, particularly during an extended sequence in which cops snake their way through tight hallways and staircases in pursuit of a felon. The story by debuting scripter Matt Cook doesn't break any new ground but offers some terse exchanges to go along with some lapses in logic. The work by the members of the impressive ensemble is appropriate for the grim occasion but also limiting, with none of these characters ever allowed to crack a smile or play many emotions beyond surly. None, that is, except for Woody Harrelson. Cast as Affleck's uncle, an irreverent detective who enjoys cracking wise when he's not cracking open a bottle, he's the only actor here who's allowed to laugh all the way to the bank.