Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garret Hedlund. These are names that you would easily expect on the latest blockbuster on IMAX, but instead, we’re finding them teamed-up for Netflix’s new action thriller, Triple Frontier. Those names alone though should show just how committed Netflix is in wanting you to take this movie seriously and you should, because it deserves it.
When the trailer first dropped for this movie, I was instantly intrigued Not just by the stars, but by the premise and action beats on display that looked tight and thrilling. However, upon hearing that it was directed by J. C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), who is more familiar with drama than big action films, I’ll admit to being a little concerned about how it would turn out. Sadly, Triple Frontier doesn’t quite deliver on the action front, but I think it is actually better off for it.
What Triple Frontier does rather is give you characters that you’ll care about, Along with a complex look into the effects that greed can have on you and leave you questioning your morals. Yes, you might think this is not what you signed up for when all you want is an action movie, but it adds more stakes into the scenarios and has you hitting the highs and lows with the cast, as they evaluate their own morals and just what compromises they are willing to make to secure an absolute fortune.
In case you aren’t aware of what Triple frontier is about, it follows the story of five ex-special forces operatives who, due to pressures in their personal lives (everything from financial troubles to just wanting to do the right thing by a community), decide to pull off the ultimate heist from a drug-lord in Colombia. Despite thorough planning, things go horribly wrong when the money on offer turns out to be way, way more than they imagined and greed gets the better of some of them. In the end, their biggest enemy is not only the drug lords that are going to be out for
As an action movie, it does take a while to get going. Although Chandor does try to spruce things up with a short action sequence set in Colombia, it is light on action from the get-go. The slow start allows you to get to know the characters, their predicaments and their motivations and as criminal as their act is, you want to side with them because you feel for them. It also makes a lot of their more controversial decisions later on in the film make more sense. And even though the conclusion of the film is a little anticlimactic from an action perspective, the ending is satisfying in where it takes the characters. Throw in a plot which offers up a few tests along the way and you are left with a movie that is really worth watching.
Triple Frontier is cerebrally rewarding and provides some inspired introspection in between its seldom bursts action, but that’s not to say that the more kinetic setpieces and tension aren’t well executed. The movie does keep you at the edge of your seat for large moments by making you feel the tough moral choices and consequences the characters need to make. And not just though pure gunplay, even though these sections are well-executed, if not perhaps very brief. It’s clever filmmaking that draws on you to understand its core themes of honour and duty without coming across as too obvious. It trusts you to be intelligent enough to make these connections and rewards you for doing so.
This is a movie that is carried by its actors who all do a remarkable job in connecting you emotionally with the situations and bringing out the humanity that prevents it from descending into super-human action territory, while the script written by Chandor and Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) shows that they understand the consequences of war far too well.
Triple Frontier is a rewarding film that makes full use of its excellent cast in telling a story that isn’t afraid to explore the moral (sometimes immoral) consequences of its characters actions. You’ll find better action movies out there right now, but few that will question your conscience as well as this. The film is far from perfect: not every scene works, its pacing can be a little drawn out. However, thanks to some strong character writing and fantastic acting giving you a real concern for the well-being of these men, you are left with one of the smarter action films you are probably going to get this year.
Last Updated: March 18, 2019