The benefit of films made for streaming services allows people to tell slightly different stories that we would see in theaters. Triple Frontier is one of those movies. The trailer for the film shows just how wrong marketing takes it when promoting a film. The film has been promoted as an action-version of an Ocean’s 11 style caper. The problem is that it’s nothing like the promo. In fact, it is a bit better than that.
Co-written and directed by J.C. Chandor, who I came to discover after watching his amazing film Margin Call. Mark Boal was given story and co-writing credit. Boal’s work with the military comes from Kathryn Bigelow with films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker. Bigelow is credited as an executive producer, which makes sense with the military background.
Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac) wants to take down a major drug lord, but knows that the Spanish police force is corrupt. Knowing that he houses all his millions in drug money in his mansion, Pope decides that he and the company he works for would like to go in without the national police’s knowledge.
He recruits Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis (Ben Affleck) to strategize the mission, but is hesitant on joining the actual mission. Redfly has had a run of bad luck since being forced to ‘retire’, which they don’t explain. He is a condo realtor, which he completely sucks at. He has two girls that he won’t be able to send to college. He agrees to help plan but doesn’t want to see gunfire.
William ‘Ironhead’ Miller (Charlie Hunnam) joins, only because Redfly is on, and seems to be more of the rationale behind the team. One thing that blows it for me is that there are several instances where he loses his American accent. Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund) joins his brother on the mission. Lastly, Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales (Pedro Pascal) joins as their airman.
With a two hour and change runtime, the first hour of the movie evolves around the recruiting, planning, and the heist. The remaining time focuses on the extraction. As one would imagine the whole mission goes tits up and nothing goes according to plan. Much of it is focused on Redfly’s greed and delaying their exit plan.
The remainder of the film focuses on how the team dissolves into manic paranoia, greed, moral ambiguity, and questioning their own military training. The film discusses how the government treats their soldiers with very little monetary compensation for their duties, which is what spawns their decision to do something for themselves. However, the overall message is that the loyalty between soldiers, which separates them from mercenaries.
Triple Frontier manages to play a bit of action early on with some suspense. The extraction devolves into a psychological drama when soldiers begin to decide whether they should cross the line into enriching themselves. The cast is strong and the tension between the men powerful. It is in no way a perfect movie, but it does stay with you in the end.