Directed by: JC Chandor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller
Release date: March 13, 2019
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Ben Affleck leads an ensemble cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal in Netflix’s first high-profile film of 2019
Triple Frontier is a 2019 American action thriller film directed by J. C. Chandor, with a screenplay by Chandor and Mark Boal, from a story by Boal. The film stars Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal, and follows a group of former Special Operations soldiers who reunite to plan a heist job of a South American crime boss.
The film was released by Netflix in select theaters on March 6, 2019, before its worldwide streaming release on March 13, 2019.
Triple Frontier Movie Plot:
Santiago “Pope” Garcia works as a private military adviser in Colombia combating drug crime. During his time there, an informant named Yovanna asks for his help with smuggling her and her brother out of the country in exchange for information on the whereabouts of a drug lord named Lorea.
Yovanna tells Pope that Lorea lives in a safehouse in the jungle along with all his cash. Pope travels home to America to recruit his old Special Forces friends for a job to seize the money under the pretense of working for the Colombian government: Tom “Redfly” Davis, a realtor; William “Ironhead” Miller, a motivational speaker; his brother Ben Miller, a mixed martial arts fighter; and Francisco “Catfish” Morales, a former pilot. With persuasion from Pope, they decide to steal the money for themselves.
Lorea ambushes the soldiers inside the safe-house, wounding Iron-head before being killed himself. The group realizes there is far more money hidden inside the walls of the house than they can carry. They load $250 million inside a van, burn the compound, and escape to an airfield. Catfish is unsure that the escape helicopter can hold the weight of all the money at high altitudes, but Redfly urges him on. They transport Yovanna into Peru with her brother, then plan to fly over the Andes Mountains to a boat on the coast that will take their money to an offshore account.
As they ascend the peak, the helicopter’s gearbox alarm goes off. Despite dumping some cash, the group crash-land into farmland near a village. Redfly kills several of the armed farmers when they become hostile and attempt to claim the money for themselves. Pope and Redfly compensate the village elder, before departing with several mules to continue transporting the money over the mountains. As they begin the descent towards the ocean Redfly is killed by a young man from the village as revenge for the death of his father. The team decide to wrap up Redfly’s body and carry it with them, hoping to return his body to his family.
Meanwhile, Lorea’s gang has garrisoned the coastal towns to hunt down the team. Having been forced to abandon their mules over the mountain journey, the team decides to throw most of the money into a nearby ravine where it will be snowed over and lost. They then attempt to sneak past the town, but are discovered. Under fire, they reach their escape vessel with just $5 million in cash. Safely home, they eventually decide to give it all to Redfly’s family.
Afterwards, the team go their separate ways, with Pope planning to head to Australia to find Yovanna. Before leaving, Ironhead gives Pope a set of coordinates scribbled on a piece of paper, the location of the ravine in Peru where they left the money behind.
Triple Frontier Movie Trailer:
Triple Frontier Movie Review:
Director JC Chandor’s Triple Frontier is the first high-profile Netflix original film of 2019, after the streaming service made resounding leaps towards legitimacy with a spectacular 2018 that culminated with the glorious Roma. It is also perhaps one of the best examples of the tightrope that they are walking in terms of balancing a populist approach yet maintaining an auteur-driven identity.
Triple Frontier has that ‘something for everyone’ quality that could either work in its favor, or be its undoing. It constantly keeps reinventing itself every 15 minutes; it goes from gritty drug drama to slick heist movie, and then transforms into an old-school Western, and ends as a survival thriller/ chase film. Understandably, this may be too much for an audience looking for cheap thrills, but for Chandor and his cast, it’s an excuse to play in five movies instead of one, and to use genre to make important sub-textual statements about violence, vengeance and warfare.
Five former military veterans, bitter about the sorry hand they’ve been dealt by their country despite literally taking bullets for it, plan to take down a larger-than-life Mexican drug lord and keep all his dirty money for themselves. That is about as much as you need to know going in, and it is roughly a summation of what was shown in the film’s trailer.
Immediately after having seen it, I remember thinking that the trailer had essentially revealed the entire film’s plot. But it turns out that Netflix has taken the Marvel approach to marketing this film, in that what we’ve seen so far is – to make an informed guesstimate – mostly footage from the first 30 minutes.
The element of surprise has largely disappeared from modern mainstream movie-making. And one of Triple Frontier’s greatest accomplishments is how confidently it topples the expectations of a wary and weathered audience. It swerves around into strange and wonderful new directions in its remaining hour-and-a-half, piling set-piece upon set-piece, balancing action (of different styles) with deft character work and brazen political ideas.
And although Ben Affleck is (understandably) the top-billed actor in the credits, Oscar Isaac is ostensibly the film’s lead. It is he who plays the Bruce Wayne-style role, and rounds up his old brothers for the job. Charlie Hunnam is delivering ‘inspirational’ speeches to future recruits, and for the first time his typical wooden delivery makes sense. His (actual) brother, played by Garrett Hedlund, is an MMA fighter. Pedro Pascal is once again playing one of his snaky charmers, and Affleck is peddling real estate. They are united by their feelings of resentment towards what they have sacrificed for their country – personally, physically and professionally – and what they have received in return.
They are promised that the drug lord Lorea – an unseen entity who lingers like a spectre in the film’s opening act – has a stash of close to $75 million, which will be more than fair compensation for all their troubles, past and present.
Triple Frontier is part-morality tale about selfishness and greed and corruption, part-parable about the perils of military intervention, but more importantly, it’s an insanely entertaining movie. Of course, it’s slightly off-putting that it’s so bashfully masculine (especially in this day and age), but that can be largely credited to writer Mark Boal’s creative inclinations.
Boal, the Academy Award-winning writer of recent Kathryn Bigelow films such as The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit, is in many ways the only constant in Triple Frontier’s long and precarious journey to the (small) screen. Numerous actors – Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Tom Hardy to name a few – have signed on and dropped out, several directors were attached before Chandor, including Bigelow, and the film moved from Paramount to Netflix. It’ll be interesting to know just how majorly (or not) Boal’s original screenplay has changed in these years. One would imagine every lead actor having suggested certain adjustments to tailor the role to suit them, but something tells me Affleck just went along for the ride.
He is, for the first time in many years, visibly enthusiastic about acting – and at the very least, he doesn’t have that look of pure contempt that was plastered on his face for most of Justice League.