Money, jungles, mountains, water, fire… and testicular fortitude!
It’s not uncommon for films to slinky around Tinsel Town. Some slinky so much, they wind up scraped, enthusiasm locked in a safe labeled “No Return,” buried in a California desert, and forgotten about. That’s not the case with TRIPLE FRONTIER. This title has been on a slinky slope for the last few years, but in comes uncle Netflix and CPR’d life back into it. Knowing this was once sought upon as a bigger blockbuster backed by Paramount, possibly directed by Kathryn Bigelow, with names like Tom Hardy, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Channing Tatum and Mahershala Ali tied to it will be hard to shake off. Not that the project scooped up a director and cast of slouches, but it is a bit awkward to summarize the film in my head and wonder what the result would have been with those who dropped out.
TRIPLE FRONTIER follows five former Special Forces operatives reunited on a heist plan deep within a thinly-populated, multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious stars-and-stripes career these unsung heroes take on a mission for self instead of country. But when events take an unexpected turn, uneven footing forces the mission to spiral out of control. Testing their skills, loyalties and morals, the task morphs from heist to an epic battle of survival.
I liked it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I mean, if you’ve seen one heist movie, you’ve seen them all. Following a formula that’s predictable, TRIPLE FRONTIER holds its own. Unlike the OCEANS franchise, HEAT, or THE TOWN (which also stars Affleck), TRIPLE FRONTIER’s twist is a narrative of “good guys” gone “bad.” First things first, the scenery is beautiful! I love ruggedness and grittiness and the sense of chaotic disorientation. The jungle provided that, as well as gorgeous wide shots of the Andes. Knowing outside of dodging man, dealings of nature imposing its will among them adds psychological intensity to the film. Nature’s wrath is second to none. There’s a lot of it here. Having seen these on a big screen, it all looked good. (Sucks to know most people will see this on their phones, reaping the benefit of its landscape of intensity.)
All five of these characters – although rushed in terms of development – were on the frontlines of battle with their fellow brothers, but in this story, we’re picking them up at a moment in their lives when that period is over and they’re looking for a new sense of purpose. The premise here is desperate people doing desperate things. The film exposes an ugly, underlying truth to the treatment of our soldiers once back from combat. More than just another film exposing a war on many facets, TRIPLE FRONTIER is broken down into two films: First half made to feel like a classic heist, second half a battle for survival (including a quick yet important role played by Adria Arjona)
The film has its dips, which messes with its pacing. It drags in certain areas and doesn’t need to be two hours. However, its heartbeat is all the adrenaline-laced action it provides. TRIPLE FRONTIER is an empty calorie to a degree, but enjoyable and engaging thanks to the cast. It’s got band-of-brotherhood with tough-guy comradery for the guys, and just about every good-looking dude the production dug up for the girls. In short, everybody benefits.
Grade: B | Genre: Action-Adventure, Drama, Thriller, War | Rated: R | Run Time: 2:05
Starring: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal, Adria Arjona
Directed by: J.C. Chandor