The newest Netflix Original directed by J. C. Chandor takes an unconventional approach to the classic heist film where most of the action takes place after the crime has been committed. Complete with tense shootouts, adrenaline-filled chase scenes, and superb cinematography, Triple Frontier holds up in some departments, but falls short in others. With flimsy character development and awkward pacing (especially leading up to the climax), the film starts off strong and features several exciting scenes throughout, but the audience can’t help but feel unsatisfied by the time the credits roll.
The film features a star-studded cast, first introducing ‘Ironhead’ (Charlie Hunnam), as an army veteran who now gives speeches to new recruits. Next, the film shifts to the inciting incident, where ‘Pope’ (Oscar Isaac), discovers the location of Lorea, a cartel kingpin who Pope has been tracking for years, along with over 75 million dollars hidden in his Estate. After that, Pope enlists his old army friends, ‘Redfly’ (Ben Affleck), ‘Catfish’ (Pedro Pascal), and Ben (Garrett Hedlund), who have all acquired low-paying jobs after their years in the service. Pope convinces his friends to engage in the heist and assassination of Lorea because of how poorly their lives have turned out after serving their country and how they deserve more. The heist soon goes haywire when onslaughts of Lorea’s men arrive at the house, forcing the crew to make an intemperate escape. The rest of the film involves the characters trekking through harsh terrain to get to their escape boat hundreds of miles away from the house, while being pursued by the remainder of Lorea’s men. To provide a sense of the pacing, the heist concludes halfway through Triple Frontier, and the rest of the film features a tedious slog through harsh terrain on the way to the brief, yet admittedly exciting climax.
There are several redeeming factors of this movie, including the beautiful cinematography, filled with smooth drone shots capturing car chases through lush foliage, and stark rocky landscapes of intricate, rocky terrain. The action scenes are also top-notch, ranging from claustrophobic, tactical shootouts, rigid standoffs, and sprawling chase sequences that not only provide excitement, but also define the motives of the characters. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between, but fantastic nonetheless. The movie also has interesting commentary on the negative way veterans are compensated for the hardship and trauma they endure in the line of battle. The characters are constantly talking about how they risked their lives for their country and ended up with nothing to show for it, which makes the audience Somewhat sympathize for them, but not enough to truly care about the outcome of their situation.
Ultimately, contains many elements of superb cinematography and skillfully created action sequences, but the attenuated characters barely deserve the audience’s attention and awkward pacing forces viewers to sit through almost an hour of mundane moments. The director was clearly trying to add a unique twist to the heist genre, but this decision proved unsatisfactory for the film as a whole.