Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for self instead of country. But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.
In J. C. Chandor’s relatively short career to date he’s made three films covering themes as diverse as the financial crisis, survival at sea and a period crime drama. ‘Triple Frontier’, his fourth film, is different once again, a heist thriller centering on a group of former Special Ops soldiers who reunite to rob a South American drug lord. This is also a Netflix release, which is a shame, as there’s numerous sequences here that would have looked particularly great on the big screen.
We begin amidst a shootout in Colombia where Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac) works as a military advisor to help combat drug crime. When an informant offers to provide him with information on the whereabouts of a drug lord and his stash of cash in exchange for smuggling her and her brother out the country, Pope takes the offer up and sets about recruiting his old team. Those men are played by Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal, and through a series of montages and introductions we understand how they fit into the picture, and what drives them back into the field. This setup isn’t the most engaging but once the crew arrive at the drug lord’s jungle compound it turns into riveting stuff, with some terrific action sequences and tension to match as the crew attempt to get in and get out with as little bloodshed as possible. Those who have see the French film ‘The Wages of Fear’ or William Friedkin’s loose remake ‘Sorcerer’ will find similarities here with a tense escape through the alien environment of the South American jungle landscape.
The film is first and foremost an action thriller but J. C. Chandor’s prior works are thematically deeper than their premises would necessarily suggest and ‘Triple Frontier’ is no different, especially once the gang set their escape plan into motion. Characters who we’ve previously been rooting for start to display uglier, more selfish character traits, and a couple of key incidents make us question the morality of the situation in more detail. The performances are good with Oscar Isaac the standout and whilst ‘Triple Frontier’ has its shakier moments, I was really entertained throughout.
‘Triple Frontier’ isn’t quite as good as J. C. Chandor’s previous three films but this is an entertaining entry in the filmography of one of the most diverse filmmakers operating today. I’ll be interested to see what he does next – a Disney animation perhaps?!
Directed By: J. C. Chandor
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal and Adria Arjona