REVIEW: Triple Frontier (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Triple Frontier — Directed by J. C. Chandor.

From the director of All is Lost and A Most Violent Year, J. C. Chandor, and the writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal, Netflix’s Triple Frontier — named for the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay — includes arguably the most star-studded blockbuster-like cast for a Netflix Original Film yet.

Chandor’s film follows Santiago “Pope” Garcia (played by Oscar Isaac), an American military veteran, who, while serving as somewhat of an adviser to some South American police force, learns of the location of a drug lord’s riches. Seeing an opportunity to finally make some money to properly retire, he starts to plan a heist. But seeing as he’ll have to break into a guarded mansion in the middle of the humid, green jungle, he won’t be able to do it on his own.

Pope’s crew includes four of his friends and fellow veterans none of which have the life they think they deserve. These include Tom “Redfly” Davis (played by Ben Affleck), who is now a divorced, pudgy real estate agent, as well as Francisco “Catfish” Morales (played by Pedro Pascal) and two brothers (played by Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund).

A competent special forces team, Pope and his crew get inside of the mansion — and their hands on the money — fairly easily, but, when gold fever strikes, the team gets slobby and what once seemed like a simple and quick job becomes laborious and dangerous. They get their hands on much more money than they expected, but it’s also more than they can handle, and this new reality hinders the once so well-defined plan in ways they never imagined.

Featuring luscious images such as those of the green jungles of South America, Triple Frontier is not just perhaps the most star-studded but also one of the more beautiful Netflix Original Films. Beautiful environments and movie stars as well as an audience-pleasing genre — the heist film — all add up to what is likely to become one of the most-watched original films on the streaming service.

Though the film has a less-than-satisfying conclusion, pacing issues in the first half of the film, and few, if any, sharply designed characters, Triple Frontier is still a gripping heist thriller with a cast that is immensely watchable and action that is undeniable nerve-racking in its best moments. The intense Triple Frontier, which also includes gob-smacking surprises, gives great material for its cast to showcase their talents.

Still, Hedlund and Pascal don’t leave a lasting impression, but Hunnam and Isaac get to shine as much as their ill-defined characters let them, and Ben Affleck plays the exasperated exhaustion of his character perfectly. Affleck is the most well-cast of the bunch, but Isaac leads the film comfortably, including in the film’s opening raid, which brought back memories of such films as Sicario.

Dripping with rich testosterone, odorous greed, and hefty regret, Netflix’s Triple Frontier is the early contender for ‘Best Dad Movie of the Year’ precisely because it isn’t a gloriously patriotic thriller but rather a heist film blindsided by gold fever and the heart-wrenching consequences of thievery. J. C. Chandor’s gripping heist epic trips once or twice due to, at times, ponderous pacing, but it is, from start to finish, buoyed up by its all-star cast.

7.9 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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