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Film Review: Triple Frontier

18 March 19 words: Miriam Blakemore-Hoy

After years in production hell, Triple Frontier has finally been released on Netflix. We gave it a gander to see if it was worth the wait... 

Director: J.C.Chandor

Starring: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal

Running time: 125 mins

It’s a heist movie that’s been several years in the making, with all sorts of names attached at one stage or another. The final cast list reads pretty respectably: Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal and Oscar Isaac are all ex-military brothers in arms who team up to take down a notorious cartel boss, Gabriel Martin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos) and steal all his money. A relatively simple and straightforward plot, but there were a few surprises.

While working on a police narcotics team in South America, Garcia (Isaac) is tipped off by an informer. She tells him where he can find the ever-elusive Lorea, a criminal that he has been chasing for three years. Knowing how corrupt the cops are themselves, he decides to do it the good old-fashioned way, by personally rounding up his friends with special ops skills and doing it for themselves. The D.I.Y. approach also helps when there’s a potential cash prize of $17 billion to be snaffled up. There’s Tom “Redfly” Davis (Affleck) the brains and logistics, a soldier who’s been wounded in action only to be chewed and spit out by the army, Francisco “Catfish” Morales (Pascal) an ace pilot who’s just been nicked in a coke bust, William “Ironhead” Miller (Hunnam) a jaded vet who does gigs by visiting military bases and giving motivational speeches he doesn’t believe in, and his brother Ben Miller (Hedlund) - he doesn’t get a cool nickname - who’s stuck on the low grade MMA fighter circuit. What they’ve been through together isn’t really the point, they have history and they trust each other with their lives.

Charlie Hunnam’s dodgy American accent is given another spin

After a cautious proposal, proposition and stint in planning, the heist gets underway. And it goes swimmingly. There are a few twists and turns on the way that are difficult to guess at, but then there’s not a whole lot of recon to base their operation on, with Lorea and his family living in fortress-like solitude in the middle of the Brazilian jungle. It’s a fairly chaotic and high-risk job, naturally. But still, before you know it, they’re back outside and on the escape route - at which point, I couldn’t help checking the run time because the heist came in way earlier than expected. It’s a great action sequence and probably the most enjoyable part of the film, but it’s all over pretty quickly, they’re making a run for it, and there’s still a good hour left of the film to go. And it started me wondering what they were going to fill the rest of the time with.

You see, it’s a heist film that isn’t really so much about plans, robbery, or murder, but more about the limits of human resistance and the dangers of greed that can tear people apart. In theory, it’s an interesting underlying storyline which goes beyond the usual action movie sequence and starts asking more fundamental questions about what it takes to make and break a person. But unfortunately, I’m not quite sure the director or screenwriter really had an idea what the answers to any of these questions were. The plot seems to fizzle out towards the end, giving a neatly wrapped up finish that doesn’t quite tie in with the first half. It left a feeling of dissatisfaction and a sense that this is the type of film I’ll end up forgetting quite quickly. But Charlie Hunnam’s dodgy American accent is given another spin and whether he likes it or not, Batfleck was pretty present in Affleck’s tortured performance, so it wasn’t all bad.

Did you know? Originally scheduled to star Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum, who both left the project over creative changes in the rewritten script, and were replaced by Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac.

Triple Frontier is available on Netflix UK now

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