SYNOPSIS: Make no mistake, this is not a military operation. See Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal attempt to rob one of the world’s most violent cartels in Triple Frontier.
Dumped by Paramount and bought over by Netflix, Triple Frontier was a troubled production right from the start. Still it has no issues attracting a bunch of famous grizzly faces to come together and deliver a half-baked thinking’s man action movie in the end. So beware if you are expecting an easy-peasy Expendables sort of outing because this is not the case.
In a story co-written by Mark Boal of Zero Dark Thirty and director J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), Oscar Isaac plays Pope, a private military contractor who decides to rope in his ex-special forces friends to rob an elusive drug lord, Lorea on the pretext of a legitimate reconnaissance mission. Even though their ex-Captain, Redfly (Ben Affleck) is hesitant at first, Pope manages to convince him along with Ironhead (Charlie Hunnam), his younger brother Ben (Garrett Hedlund) and pilot Catfish (Pedro Pascal).
The heist is simple enough. The guys will storm into Lorea’s heavily guarded house, kills him and take his money while his family members are out to church. But since Danny Ocean is not the one who planned it, things start to go downhill when they realised the loot is far more than they expected. In fact the walls are filled with money from Lorea and his partners. A happy problem you might say?
When greed overcomes Redfly who insist on taking all of the $250 million onboard the helicopter causing it to malfunction and crashes onto a village, that’s when the real issues and cracks start to appear. And that’s where Triple Frontier starts to fumble as well.
It’s admirable for Chandor to take his time to develop his characters showcasing the bonding, their current lives and why they desperately want the loot. Is it because of pure greed or is it because of the fact that they have been left behind by the country while spending the best times of their lives fighting for it? Redfly is divorced and stuck with a realtor job which he hates. Ironhead is reduced to giving endless pep talks to leaving army personnel. Ben is making a living as a MMA fighter, Catfish is grounded from flying as a result of a drug problem and Pope is hoping to retire for good after suffering countless injuries.
They are for sure a bunch of interesting troubled characters but somehow only Redfly has the most exposure while people liked Ben and Catfish is relegated to mere talking cardboards. So if you are going in for some solid action, you need to first sit through a talky first act though it really pays off with some brief but tense action bits later on especially some cool gunplay in the house. Whether it’s the rainy jungle terrain or the snowy mountains, the cinematography by Roman Vasyanov (Fury) looks gorgeous despite being made for the small screen.
Unfortunately, both Chandor and Boal seems to run out of steam during the third act. Triple Frontier turned out to be a movie that attempts to be a cool actioner with touches on human behaviour involving greed, morality and a whole lot of facial hair that it’s too unsatisfying by the time they played another Metallica song during the closing credits. Watch it for the stars.
Review by Linus Tee