Triple Frontier movie cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal
Triple Frontier movie director: JC Chandor
Triple Frontier movie rating: 2 stars
Netflix has entered the big-boys club and watching Triple Frontier reminded me of the same. There was a time when a Netflix original movie was synonymous with a small(-ish) independent film, the one the needed a push because the studios showed no faith in it. Triple Frontier ticks all the boxes that the studios typically look for and thus, it only signals that Netflix will diversify as much as needed until it spreads across all formats and genres.
Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal star in the JC Chandor directorial where machismo is available in abundance. This ensemble of good-looking men, who play military vets, look like they must be friends as soon as they appear on the screen and believing their friendship is probably the most believable part of the film.
Triple Frontier starts as a heist film that eventually questions its own morality
Isaac is working as a consultant with the military in South America where he gets to know about a multi-millionaire drug lord. He hatches a plan to loot the kingpin with his buddies. Here, the film highlights how poorly ex-military men are treated by the US government and with this argument, all men agree to go on the mission.
It is quite unbelievable to watch a drug kingpin’s empire and all of his 250 million dollars being protected by a handful of guards but what takes precedence here is Affleck’s character graph. From being the one who wants to stay miles away from this mess to the one who turns dangerously greedy, his character is the only one to show any substantial growth.
Triple Frontier lags when it should be brisk
The first act of the film drives on information and keeps you engaged. It’s in the later stage of the second act that the film starts losing momentum; it lags in places it should be brisk. Some glitches in the heist lead the characters into a bigger problem. Their escape plane crashes because of the weight of the cash and they are left to their own device in South American jungles. Here on, the film makes you ask the same question over and over again, how much money will they come out with and do they really deserve any of it? The characters, which start on a high moral ground, keep losing points as the film proceeds and since the film keeps judging them constantly, you aren’t left rooting for them either.
The characters broadly belong to the same archetype which doesn’t give much room for interpersonal dynamics. The writing of the film starts feeling confused as it juggles between taking the high ground of ‘We won’t kill more people’ to ‘ We had no option but to kill’ in a matter of minutes. By the time the film enters its third act, you are left waiting for it to end. The morally superior climax feels flawed and makes you wonder of all the other possible outcomes.
Written by JC Chandor (also the director) and Mark Boal (who also wrote The Hurt Locker), Triple Frontier has been in the making since 2010 and was once supposed to be directed by Katheryn Bigelow. Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp and Mahershala Ali were once attached to this project.
Triple Frontier is an average film that is way too long for its own good. It feels like the storyteller was confused as to how much was forgivable and how much morality is needed to pass the good-guy test. This confusion on their part leaves us uninterested and thus makes the film almost forgettable.