Triple Frontier

Triple Frontier ★★★★

What most blockbusters these days fail to do is give purpose and meaning to their action scenes. Action scenes will come and go as a reminder that you’re watching an action film, but Triple Frontier boasts three small scale events strung together by a surprising amount of hefty connective tissue from it’s cast. The biggest standout here was Ben Affleck for his meaty performance. After the colossal backlash for Batman v Superman, the box office bomb in Live By Night (a film he directed), and lots of personal issues outside of the movie landscape, Affleck really needed a win, and he brought his best to every scene. Most of the themes are funneled through Affleck’s stocky, muscular Dad build, and Affleck plays it with a nuanced sense of darkness, and a mirror of charm reflected back towards that. He definitely brought over some of those Bruce Wayne/Batman personalities. 

The rest of the cast is otherwise just as good as you could expect. All five of these guys are some of Hollywood’s best workers today, and Hunnam turns in another dynamite performance after The Lost City of Z. His chemistry with the rest of the cast is off the charts as they all share their own unique relationships that doesn’t feel like it’s replicating another. It definitely helps that Chandor trimmed all of the potential fat that could have eaten this film alive through his direction and the script credit shared with Mark Boal. A writer who has continuously worked with director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), the director who was originally keyed in as the director for this project, and ultimately got shoveled over to the executive producer role. 

Triple Frontier could have easily been the typical “been there done that” action fare with predictable plot points and character beats. Instead it has a ton of respect for treating it’s characters right through respecting the audience’s attention span. Every film has exposition, sure, but it’s what a director (initially the writer) does in exploring the foundation for the narrative and characters apart of it. Pope (played perfectly by Isaac), gathers this squad together just like something you would see in any other Hollywood fare, but the set-up is so brief that it gives it enough crisp for texture, and it ultimately sets up an efficient form of storytelling. As I previously mentioned, this movie trims all of the fat from it’s story. The heist happens precisely when it should and it doesn’t prolong it’s time setting up the biggest selling point of the trailers. It makes it a note to showcase how talented and good these guys are at their specific duties, but it’s the surprise turn of execution that really draws in your attention to the craft. 

Again, this could have easily been a sequence that went flawlessly and without hiccups, but their mental instability that causes problems and increases the tension. Chandor carefully eases in themes of greed, power, and masculinity, that their lust for money literally puts them in a position of being surrounded by the towering greens of South America. That drive to achieve the green becomes the very setting they have to maneuver through as it overtakes them. It shrouds the path they thought clear, and the road to uncovering their best selves, their past selves, becomes an unexpected chore. The writing is so simple in structure, that Chandor has an entire canvas to get his hands in, and his ability to lean into consequence of actions is simply sublime, and that’s a huge reason why Triple Frontier works as well as it does. 

There really isn’t anything negative to say here. Early on it played like Suicide Squad where it felt like they had music playing for no discernable reason, and sometimes certain moments play a bit too sincere that it comes off a tad corny and it offsets the film just a bit, but overall this is a huge win for Netflix in terms of quality. It won’t become the revelation that Bird Box was, but it’s an easy-going Sunday afternoon thriller with performances full of gravitas, and meaning and purpose behind each scene. You can feel Chandor behind the camera calling the shots and clearing a path to fully open up his vision, and this came as a pleasant surprise because it actively avoids clichés and the beaten path this genre usually falls prey to. 

Triple Frontier gets an 82/100

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