'Triple Frontier' (2019) Movie Review
Well This Was a Pain in the Ass.
Do you want to know what I find to be the most frustrating thing about this film? It really has nothing to do with the movie itself. The movie was actually pretty good. Spoiler alert, I’m recommending the movie. But do you know what’s been giving me grief for the past few days now? The damn title. This freaking title is so generic that I have had constant problems in trying to remember it when I’ve really needed to. It sounds like a stupid complaint, but hear me out.
I first heard of this movie about a month or two ago when I became curious if Ben Affleck was coming out with any new movies soon, seeing on his IMDb a new release scheduled to come out in March called Triple Frontier. I read a synopsis, checked out the trailer, and saw the cast that was listed for the movie; which got me pretty excited to see it for when it premieres on Netflix. The month or two goes by, cutting to about two or three days ago, I’m trying to recall that movie from memory and I can’t for the life of me remember what the hell it’s called. I go back onto IMDb to figure it out, seeing the title Triple Frontier plastered all over the IMDb homepage in ads. It doesn’t even hit me then that was the title, saying to myself, “The f*ck is Triple Frontier?!” No time for that now, gotta look up Ben Affleck again to find that damn title, only to see that Triple Frontier was what I was looking for. Movie premieres on Netflix yesterday, I’m getting notifications throughout the whole day about some movie called Triple Frontier. Dumbass me, again, goes onto IMDb to see what it is only to be reminded it’s that frikkin’ Ben Affleck flick I’ve been looking forward to for the last month now. Cut to last night when I finally get some time to sit down and watch the movie, I pull up Netflix and immediately forget the title, but luckily it’s right there waiting for me as a new release. Sweet, I thought. I start the movie, but my cat messes with the controller, backing me out of the movie within fifteen seconds of starting it. The movie completely disappears for me. It’s not at the start of Netflix or in the new releases category anymore, it’s just gone. So, of course, I forgot the God damn title yet again. I have to go onto IMDb, look up Ben Affleck, find that forgettable ass title, switch back to Netflix, constantly look back and forth between my phone and my television because I keep forgetting the title midway through typing it, start the movie back up, and hide the controller from my cat.
Cut to the next night with me getting ready to write my review, saving a Word document for my critique before I start writing… sitting here completely blanking… AGAIN… on what this freaking title is. Seriously, I don’t know what it is with me and this title, but it is not sinking into my brain. Do you realize how many times I’ve had to look back up at the title of my Word document in order to remember the title for just typing it up into this paragraph? It’s insane how much my mind refuses to remember it.
Okay… nitpicking rant over. Apologies.
Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac) is a special forces soldier that has located a powerful drug cartel boss in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Pope approaches four of his old friends (Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garret Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal), who are ex special forces, with the plan to rob this mafioso and take him out for good while keeping all the money for themselves. Fighting off anything that gets in their way in getting back home with millions of dollars in their pockets.
I actually had a solid time with this, it was pretty entertaining, despite a few flaws and some pacing issues. The cast is really what sold me on this movie; Isaac, Affleck, Hedlund, Pascal, and Hunnam really do carry this film with their chemistry and natural charisma. They inject these roles with some real weight and dimensionality, roles that are honestly relatively underwritten when you break them down. All of the leads held my interest the entire two-hour runtime, even when things slowed down almost to a crawl, I was still engaged by their performances. Then when things finally picked up with the intensity and action sequences, I was totally into it. I was even on the edge of my seat in a couple of high pressure situations with the team. Feeling at any moment, one of these guys could easily bite the dust with one wrong move.
Director J.C. Chandor, I’m only familiar with one film of his, 2014’s A Most Violent Year. Truth be told, I don’t remember a thing about that movie other than Oscar Isaac was good in it. However, co-writer Mark Boal, I am very familiar with his work; such as The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, and 2017’s Detroit. Detroit was easily one of my favorite films of that specific year and my favorite of this writer’s filmography thus far. The man certainly knows how to create some tension within a scene, he is remarkably talented in that regard as he brings that skillset into the writing of this Netflix venture as well.
Triple Frontier is truly an ensemble piece, no one of the leads taking much more or less than the other when it comes to front lining. The five are a team and they take the film on together equally, which I admired that this movie didn’t strictly feel like an Affleck or Isaac action vehicle while the rest took a backseat, even though I love those two actors. I’m more glad to have the screenplay take on the approach to establish them all as equals. Their comradery with one another is the center of what makes the film work, without it, I would have been so bored. Seriously, if a single one of these leads did not function properly with the rest of the group, everything could have fallen apart. Luckily, because the five work so well off of each other, it’s engaging to hang out with these guys while they banter in between the intense moments. I root for these guys to make it out alive from this intimidating series of circumstances revolving around an already risky heist they’ve planned.
Charlie and Garrett
I’m throwing these two together for a couple of reasons; one, they play brothers which makes so much sense to me and has me wondering why they haven’t been casted as family members before now. Second, I have a lot of similar things to say about these actors. These are two guys that can effortlessly command the screen and give some terrific performances, but for some reason I feel that they have not gotten their fair due when it comes to appreciation. Charlie Hunnam floored me in 2016’s The Lost City of Z, while Garrett Hedland has given some of the most entrancing of young performances I’ve ever seen with a number of his roles. By the way, TRON: Legacy is underrated as hell! Again, they bring their A-game and fill these roles with such history. Even though that history doesn’t feel like it’s truly present in the writing, the actors work wonders at providing it with their chemistry. These two brothers feel natural and believable together, whether they’re getting along or at each other’s throats.
I love Ben Affleck, I really do. I think that the man is brilliant. As an actor, as a writer, as a director, the guy hasn’t really done any wrong for me. I’m probably one of the few people that enjoyed Gigli. No, I won’t ever take that back. Gigli is funny and Affleck was great in that movie. When Affleck was announced as the new Batman, I was frikkin’ giddy as hell and he was actually my favorite Batman since Michael Keaton. He’s a phenomenal talent that I enjoy seeing his work every time. Affleck in this, does solid work. With very little material to work with, Affleck still manages to invest me in this character he’s playing. Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis (Affleck) is just a guy trying to make it by in life while providing the best he can for his family after the separation from his wife and his realtor career not quite panning out. Something I really dug about Affleck’s performance is the character arc that he went through as the film went on. Starting out fairly hesitant about the whole sketchy mission, but as time goes on, Redfly becomes more and more seduced by greed. Possibly turning the character into somewhat of a loose cannon. Making the film a little unpredictable as to if Redfly can retain his composure or if he’ll become an enemy by the time all is said and done.
With the exception of Life Itself, Isaac has had the pretty decent streak in the last few years. Ex Machina, Star Wars, X-Men, Annihilation; he’s made quite the name for himself. To anyone immediately getting pissy about The Last Jedi after I mentioned Start Wars, stop it. There are worse movies out there. There are worse movies within Star Wars. Stop whining. Anyways, Oscar Isaac is another actor that I have been enjoying quite a bit over the years. Especially since he’s a bit of a chameleon with him occasionally appearing wildly different for a role. Thankfully, he looks like himself this time around. What I like particularly about Isaac’s character, Pope, is that he just sees an opportunity to help out his friends while bettering the lives of this country that has fallen victim to a terrible drug lord. At no point does he think selfishly in this situation. With the operation of the heist, he offers his friends multiple chances to back out if they truly want to. When it comes to the money, it’s never really about getting it for himself, but for his friends. Even the money comes second, with his true goal finally ridding the world of this cartel leader. And because of Oscar Isaac’s performance, he feels like a regular guy that can crumble a little when applied with enough pressure. He’s not above getting agitated when things start going wrong.
Pascal is an actor that has only recently drawn my attention, but I have grown very fond of seeing him every time he pops up. So far, I can’t say that I’ve seen a movie he’s starred in that I’ve loved, but I have definitely loved his performances. Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales is Pascal’s character, what I appreciated about Catfish is that this was the guy that really grounded the team. Which is kind of funny seeing how he’s actually the pilot for them. When the rest of the team starts to get heated or full of themselves, Catfish is there to bring them down a peg and help them realize their mistakes. However, he makes a few of his own. But they share every mistake together. This felt like a makeshift family unit with Pascal as the middle child trying to keep his brothers together.
I did enjoy the movie, but it’s not perfect. It has its fair share of faults. Pacing being one of them. There are a number of scenes that could have been trimmed or cut out altogether. The runtime is a total of two hours and five minutes, a good portion of which did breeze by for me, but there were times that I grew restless. The actors always managed to hold my attention, yet this could have been a tighter film if the writing or editing had been worked on a little bit more. I mean, it probably took nearly halfway into the narrative to get to the actual heist the group was performing. I don’t think it needed to take quite that long. Although, it did provide enough time to become invested with the characters and when the heist did come into play, things definitely became pretty suspenseful from there on out. I still believe things could have been tightened up though.
Another thing I had a problem with was that a certain character arc felt cut too short. I thought that it was going towards something that could have been pretty interesting to shake things up, then after a certain scene happened, the arc was completely eradicated. I will say that how it was eliminated from the story line, I found to be surprising and I appreciated that to an extent, but I think I would have preferred seeing where things could have gone with the group if allowed the time to progress more.
Another issue seems to be the limit of the budget, not that the film looks poorly made by any means. In fact, for a Netflix original, the cinematography and special effects are actually pretty well executed. However, when we reach the third act climax it feels like there was an idea for an action set piece that could have taken place if given the proper budget, unfortunately the filmmakers fell short of that. So what we’re left with is, not a bad action sequence, but I was longing for a bit more after the near two-hour buildup. What they did manage to do with the climax was still decent, I simply was hoping for a lot more. The best way I can put it is that I was hoping for filet mignon and what I got was a half-eaten corndog. Still a good corndog. Just not quite enough to fulfill my appetite.
Despite any problems I had with the movie, I still had a pretty decent time. I liked these characters, I found their chemistry engaging and there was enough suspense centered around this heist that had me wide-eyed. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s entertaining. And it’s on Netflix, so if you already have the subscription, it’s basically free to check out. Honestly, that’s a pretty good deal in my opinion. You get to see five great actors that work wonders with each other in a pretty solid thriller. If you’re aware of some of the issues the movie has going in, then I think that you’ll be fine. But if anything I said sounds like a deal-breaker, then do yourself a favor and skip it to avoid any frustration. The action set pieces are pretty intense, the cinematography feels somewhat inspired by Michael Mann, the environment itself was quite gorgeous to behold, and the soundtrack is actually pretty good as it has rock music scattered throughout that originate from a few different decades. So I say check it out if Triple Frontier appeals to your tastes. That is if you don’t have any trouble memorizing the title like me.
That's All Folks!
So what did you fellow readers think of the review today? Like or dislike it? Agree or disagree? Think that Ben Affleck should have stayed being Batman? Me too… Comment down below and let me know! And also if you so happened to enjoy my review, please do me a favor and share this around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a… triple… super… duper… day? I suck at this.
© 2019 John Plocar