REVIEW: “Triple Frontier”

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There has been no shortage of heist films over the past few years and they have pretty much covered all the bases. We’ve seen widows, hillbillies, magicians, even the elderly all set out to for that one big score. The new Netflix Original “Triple Frontier” gives us a different type of heist movie yet one that doesn’t stray too far from its genre roots.

“Triple Frontier” had me at its cast. Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, and Garrett Hedlund are all actors I throughly enjoy. I wasn’t as familiar with Pedro Pascal but he’s a good addition to this group. The five play old special ops buddies who reunite to pull off a seemingly quick and easy heist. Of course it wouldn’t be much of a movie if the job was easy.

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J.C. Chandor directs and co-writes the script along with Mark Boal. They offer up characters who aren’t just out for a quick buck. They are real-world people struggling to make a living after their military service. Tom (Affleck) is a realtor who can’t afford to send his daughter to college. William (Hunnam) does low paying motivational speeches for troubled vets. Ben (Hedlund) makes what money he can in warehouse mixed martial arts fights. Francisco (Pascal) faces an upcoming court date for transporting drugs.

Santiago (Isaac) is only one still semi-working in the field. He’s a private military consultant assisting the Colombian government in their war against the drug gangs. He learns through an informant that a local kingpin is holed up in a remote safe house with millions of dollars in drug money. Santiago travels back to America to recruit his old squadmates to help him take out the kingpin and grab the money for themselves.

At first the band is reluctant to get back together, especially Tom. But Santiago knows the situations of his cash-strapped pals and his sales pitch is good. He convinces the team to get back together for the proverbial ‘one last mission’ but this one isn’t for their government or their country. This one of for them and their future. Or so it seems.

For me these characters are a real strength of the film and the motivations that drive them are compelling. I do wish Chandor and Boal would have spent a little more time on their individual stories, but once the five are together their chemistry is undeniable. So many big names have been attached to the movie – Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Tom Hardy, Mahershala Ali, Mark Wahlberg, Will Smith, among others. That’s a lot of talent but I still wouldn’t change a thing. The cast is spot-on top to bottom (keep an eye on Hunnam. I like him more with each performance).

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Another strength is Roman Vasyanov’s cinematography. Hawaii and Columbia provide the beautiful and rugged vistas for him to capture and he shows a keen eye for shooting action sequences. They are tense and thrilling but also shot in a way that reflects conscience. What does that mean? This isn’t a full-throttle 80’s style action picture. There’s no thrill or enjoyment in the gunplay. But there is real conflict and consequence. In fact the violence is never gratuitous and Chandor’s camera often focuses on the shooter’s face instead of the bloody results.

It should be said that “Triple Frontier” doesn’t paint its characters out to be heroes. They’re flawed, damaged, and conflicted men wrestling with their own moral justifications for what they are doing. Some of their actions clearly originate from a deeper personal anguish, something I wish the film delved deeper into. Still, their chemistry is authentic and palpable, the story is full of tension, and just when you think you have it figured out it throws an unexpected but welcomed curveball.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

4-stars

22 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Triple Frontier”

  1. This was a pleasant surprise. It was well done and I liked that the violence was done with a clear sense of consequences .The inner struggles would have been cool to see explored a bit more but very well executed over all. The cast had real chemistry and a decent connection.

    • I’m with you on everything you said. The chemistry really stuck out to me. Little things in the writing and performances helped convey that. And the violence definitely had consequences. Strong cast too.

  2. The characters were indeed the best part, but some of them were still so painfully underwritten. Still it was better than a standard Netflix original flick

    • I’ve really been impressed with Netflix this year. This is another quality release. I’ve actually liked a couple of their films better than almost anything I’ve seen at the theater.

  3. You already know how I feel about this film, I do wish they’d have delved deeper into their personal stories as well. Pedro Pascal didn’t get much to do, and it’s a shame; he’s brilliant in Narcos. But at the end of the day, it was certainly halfway decent, at least for an action movie! 🙂

    • Pascal was definitely the least developed of the group. He impressed me though. I wasn’t that familiar with him but he’s a really solid actor. Should I checkout Narcos?

  4. This is probably a poor comparison, but I was thinking of Treasure of the Sierra Madre when I was watching this. They don’t turn on each other, but their greed does them in, where they stay too long at the house, then won’t leave anything behind when the helicopter is overloaded. I liked it. I noticed the decision not to be showing blood splattering everywhere when someone is shot, that was a good choice.

    • Interesting! I never thought about “Treasure” but I can see where you’re coming from. You have me wanting to watch it again with that great Bogart film in the back of my mind.

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