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Triple Frontier Movie Review

Triple Frontier (2018) movie poster Triple Frontier

Theatrical Release: March 6, 2019 / Running Time: 125 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: J.C. Chandor / Writers: Mark Boal (story & screenplay), J.C. Chandor (screenplay)

Cast: Ben Affleck (Tom "Redfly" Davis), Oscar Isaac (Santiago "Pope" Garcia), Charlie Hunnam (William "Ironhead" Miller), Garrett Hedlund (Ben Miller), Pedro Pascal (Francisco "Catfish" Morales), Adria Arjona (Yovanna), Reynaldo Gallegos (Gabriel Martin Lorea)


In what may come as disappointing news only to Steven Spielberg, two more respected filmmakers have brought their talents to Netflix, bolstering the streaming company's claim to making cinema and not just television. Mark Boal,
the writer and producer of Kathryn Bigelow's award-winning dramas The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, and Detroit, and J.C. Chandor, the Academy Award-nominated writer-director of A Most Violent Year, All is Lost, and Margin Call, join forces on Triple Frontier, a throwback action flick that has a number of thrilling moments and a number of miscalculated ones as well.

The film centers on five retired special ops veterans who served together. The bond of joint service and a variety of unfulfillment from post-ops life helps Santiago "Pope" Garcia (Oscar Isaac) persuade the gang to reassemble for a dangerous yet lucrative and decidedly illegal mission in South America. They are to infiltrate the highly fortified mansion of a drug kingpin, kill him, and take millions of dollars from him. Tom Davis (Ben Affleck), seemingly the oldest and most revered of the guys, needs the most convincing to come out of retirement, even if it will offer him escape from divorce, a lousy real estate job, and piling bills. With some convincing, he agrees to collect $17,000 for one week of reconnaissance as do unlicensed pilot Francisco "Catfish" Morales (Pedro Pascal), MMA punching bag Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund), and motivational speaker William "Ironhead" Miller (Charlie Hunnam).

Obviously, the movie wouldn't show us a week of reconaissance in South America without the five guys actually going through with the mission. Scheduled for a Sunday morning when Pope's contact (Adria Arjona) on the inside and her family are away at church, the gang moves forth with the stealthy raid in hopes of collecting millions without cooperation from any government or agency. They discover riches far beyond their expectations and fill countless duffel bags with the loot.

In Netflix's "Triple Frontier", five special ops veterans (Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund, Charlie Hunnam, Ben Affleck, and, unseen, Oscar Isaac) come out of retirement for one big, dangerous mission.

Money is heavy, though. That's not exactly the point Biggie and Diddy were making on "Mo Money, Mo Problems", but the house raid proves to be just one of a sundry of challenges the squad faces on an adventure that takes them to the jungle,
to the mountains, and a cocaine farm.

Having written about soldiers and veterans, Boal, who is credited with both story and screenplay, knows the emotions and motivations of these characters. Chandor, meanwhile, credited with screenplay and direction, knows how to craft a tense moment. There are several of those, from within the drug house to up above the Andes mountains in a overloaded helicopter.

Alas, the results on the whole are mixed. One of Chandor's clearest strengths on his best and most recent movie, 2014's A Most Violent Year, was the power to draw good performances. Here, the plot and dialogue are often beneath the caliber of on-camera talent assembled here, which is unusual for a script bearing Boal's name. The cast does what they can with the macho material, but it's often not enough to keep this from feeling like a direct-to-video movie Tom Berenger would have made in the early 2000s (or now if they still ask him).

The number of good moments and bad moments probably cancel each other out, leaving this in middling territory, and at the shallow end of each filmmaker's respective oeuvre.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Captain Marvel Greta| Netflix Originals: Bird Box The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 22 July
Written and Directed by J.C. Chandor: A Most Violent Year | Written by Mark Boal: Zero Dark Thirty In the Valley of Elah
Dogs of War Lone Survivor War Dogs Triple 8
Oscar Isaac: Operation Finale Life Itself Inside Llewyn Davis | Charlie Hunnam: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Pacific Rim
Ben Affleck: The Accountant Gone Girl Argo | Garrett Hedlund: Lullaby Pan Tron: Legacy

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Reviewed March 6, 2019.

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