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It's almost criminal the way the crime thriller "Triple 9" strands a talented cast in a morass of mixed motivations and acting styles.

It starts with an expert crew of bank robbers, made up of corrupt cops and former special-forces military men, pulling off heists at the bidding of an Israeli mafia boss, Irina (played by Kate Winslet, with big hair and a bigger accent). Irina forces the crew's leader, Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor), to plan their biggest heist yet, to steal a case from a Department of Homeland Security stronghold.

The way they aim to buy time before the Atlanta police show up is to stage a diversion, the killing of a cop (or a 9-9-9 in police code). The police on the crew, Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Marcus (Anthony Mackie), have a target in mind: Chris (Casey Affleck), a rookie detective just assigned to Marcus' gang task force — and the nephew of a senior detective, Jeff (Woody Harrelson), who's investigating the crew's heists.

Director John Hillcoat ("Lawless") tries to untangle the many threads of newbie screenwriter Matt Cook's convoluted plot. But Hillcoat seems to have lost the handle on his cast, all of whom go over-the-top and act as if they're performing in different movies.

'Triple 9'

Opening Friday, Feb. 26, at theaters everywhere; rated R for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and some nudity; 115 minutes.