'Triple Frontier' Movie Review: The Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal starrer Netflix crime thriller is sleek, but underwhelming
Netflix paints a beautiful picture, but the story itself fails to provide a solid enough base for the film. I am going with 3 stars out of 5.
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Netflix's Triple Frontier could have been directed by Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker maker Kathryn Bigelow — if it was made in 2010. In 2015, under the directorship of J C Chandor, it could have had Johnny Depp in the lead. In 2017, it could have had Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy. Or Ben Affleck. Or Casey Affleck. Or Mark Wahlberg. But it finally has Ben Affleck — who rejoined the cast after dropping out — and Oscar Isaac.
It is as if the casting drama behind the scenes of this ambitious project has cast a shadow on the film itself. It has great potential — but ends up seeming rather underwhelming.
On the surface, it is a heist — Ocean’s Eleven-style — where Oscar leads a pack of five ex-military men into a mission to finish a South American drug lord. His intel tells him the bad guy has stocked up insane amounts of money in his house, and that’s where Oscar decides to kill him off, free the area of his tyranny, and flee with all that cash.
Given the geographical setting of the film, there was scope for cinematography, and in that, you will not be disappointed. Netflix has delivered a superb product, on par with what Paramount Pictures would have (probably) done if the original plan with Kathryn Bigelow had stuck. But the story fails to provide a solid enough base for the film to shine.
Oscar’s character is established with some attention to detail. But when he sets out on the recruitment mission, the men he meets, who we, as an audience will eventually follow for the rest of the two hours, are left sketchy. There are real issues — the life of a soldier after his expiry date, how he scrapes through trying to make ends meet, even though he once had fought and won for the country.
There are some great lines — “It’s like they take the best 20 years of your life and then spit you out” — but still, not enough meat to sink your teeth.
You know when Oscar shows up at their doorstep, like George Clooney of Ocean’s Eleven, even looking a bit like him (okay, maybe just in my head), they will agree. They do. Without much fuss.
A team of five, they steal the cash and save the day! (Source: YouTube screengrab)
The better part of the film was actually about transporting that insane amount of money they stole over the mountains, over the jungle and whatnot — by air, mule-back, you name it. That right there for me was the best par, simply because it was both unpredictable — and somewhat comical in a dark comedy-way.
Greed is, of course, the driving force here but what do you do when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?
A small example: The boys actually use a bag of cash to light a fire to keep themselves warm. A close-up shot of a burning 100-dollar bill reminds you of your priorities — luxury, yes, but being alive trumps all.
Greed is the driving force. (Source: IMDb)
Triple Frontier cannot be written off completely, neither can it become the next Hurt Locker. The thing that works in favour of the film, therefore, is Netflix’s backing. On March 13, a million audience will discover Triple Frontier in the comforts of their homes, watch it, like it, and will swiftly move on to another Netflix offering.
PS. Game Of Thrones fans, you will L.O.V.E. Pedro Pascal aka Oberyn Martell in Triple Frontier. He is far from his flamboyant Oberyn self, in fact, more goofy and endearing as Francisco.
I am going with 3 stars out of 5.