Personally, I’m way to selfish to serve in the military. I believe the brave soldiers who sacrifice their lives just, so I can write in the comfort of my home in Atlanta are heroes and should be celebrated as such. There’s too many horror stories from our service men and women who feel our country has turned its back on them and its heart breaking. Uninsured, unemployed, and unloved. What happens when ends don’t meet? To what lengths would you go to provide for your family? How easy would it become to turn your back on your country the way you felt it turned its back on you?
Director, JC Chandor attempts to answer these questions in his Netflix distributed film “Triple Frontier.”
Santiago “Pope” Garcia (Oscar Issac) has been in the jungles of South America tracking down the ruthless Drug lord, “Lorea.” Unsatisfied with his results and the overwhelming influence Lorea has on the local government, Pope believes the only way to get his guy is by operating outside the law. With new intel, he returns to the states to band together the rest of his unit of ex special forces operatives for a mission he knows only they can accomplish. After seeing how his unheralded group of brothers in arms have been relegated to a mundane suburban life he concocts a plan to get the guys deep south of the border to not only take out Lorea and his cartel but pull off a heist that would set them up for generations.
The Netflix synopsis has the plot smoothed out a bit more. Kind of like how the film could’ve been. Don’t get me wrong. I rather enjoyed this movie and will rate it favorably. However, there are some plot issues that could’ve been handled with a bit more care to honor the themes tackled in this pic.
This is a team up movie set to the back drop of a military heist film. It’s a pretty dope premise and crazy how much production hell this project had going on before its filming. Pope gets his crew and convinces them to do some unscrupulous things to get the life they deserve. What starts out as a small recon job elevates to a full-fledged heist. At the prospect of an even bigger score they could ever imagine, ambitions are tested, greed sets in and lives are lost.
We all expect to see the hero get the bad guy, get the girl, and get the cheers afterward. This movie is quite the opposite. Each man is a little broken. Some more than others. in the first half of the film the pacing was great to allow us to spend time with each character to gain an understanding of what got them to where they are and how persuasive would Pope have to be to get them where he wants.
The action at the jump in this film sets the tone for what to expect throughout. Oscar Issac plays Pope so cool and calculated in the beginning of the film you instantly buy into everything he’s selling and can understand why William “Ironhead” Miller (Charlie Hunnam) after telling recruits about how important never taking a job without the flag on your shoulder is, instantly takes a job from Pope where the flag is not on his shoulders.
I know crazy right.
And we continue to see Pope, line em’ up and knock em’ down when it comes to the avengers assembling. OK, so these men are far from the avengers. Tom “Redfly” Davis (Ben Affleck) is a struggling realtor, 10 years unceremoniously removed from service and on the outs with his ex-wife and kid yet still supporting his household. Ben plays this man with a lot of depth and more layers than wave seen recently. There’s a mystery lying underneath that throughout the movie the men hint at yet never uncover. That’s not a fault of Ben’s performance to how unsatisfied you feel in his character arc but a directing choice that leaves you puzzled or a complication of trimming the script. Similarly, the 2 other members Francisco “Catfish” Morales (Pedro Pascal) and William’s younger brother Ben (Garrett Hedlund) have a lot of magnetic personalities and big performances but your left wanting more by the end of the film.
Hedlund churns out one of his best onscreen performances and really displays a lot of range in this film. Seeing him introduced as a brawler at the beginning makes his growth that much more pronounced at the end. The film has stakes and you feel that throughout. Uniquely the stakes aren’t just lives these men would like to return to when and if they can make it back home, but who they will be when and if they get there.
There was a missed opportunity to explore either with these characters or around them the complexities of being a soldier returned home. More than the PTSD, but everything else that comes with it and why it’s so easy for soldiers to fall back into the line of duty or lines of work so close to it. Greed is a powerful villain; more so than Lorea himself in this film. Agreeing to this heist is a bend toward your greed already, that when obstacles further complicate your goals what else are you willing to compromise?
The cinematography is some of the best we’ve seen on Netflix; “Roma” aside. This is high production value at its finest and compliments the star power assembled in this film. The score while uneven, is more appropriate the later we get into the film and reminds you of some of the best aspects of the genre. The action throughout is nicely done yet you desire more. This may be the one review I’ll say to add a little more “Expendables” to a movie but it really would ratchet things up.
Triple frontier is good. There’s not a lot I didn’t like but also not a lot I super loved because there’s so much meat left on the bone we didn’t get into. This film needed an extra 30 minutes in the best way possible to fully flesh out the characters, their decisions and the opposing forces after them. At an opportunity to be great I highly recommend this film as a must watch.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 7/10
Director: JC Chandor
Writers: Mark Boal, JC Chandor
Starring: Oscar Issac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal
Run Time: 125 mins