Everyone hits a point where they simply have to go and get there’s…
While Triple Frontier will never be accused of reinventing the wheel in the drug cartel, thriller genre it is a very solid and well executed thriller about a group of noble warriors who have ultimately lost their way now that their wars and service are over.
A group of former Special Forces operatives (Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal) 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.
We’ll be the first to admit that a lot of the beats that rear up in Triple Frontier are pretty familiar ones; it’s still a film that is exceptionally well executed thanks to some solid direction and an ensemble cast that is very in tune with the material.
Even though he’s only got a handful of credits to his name, Co-Writer/Director J.C. Chandor is quickly becoming a name to be reckoned with. Triple Frontier is a crisp and fast moving affair from beginning to end. The film looks like a million bucks thanks to Chandor and cinematographer Roman Vasyanov as they weave in and out of the mountains of Colombia with aplomb giving it all a genuine sense of scope in regards to what these men are getting into. The script by Chandor and Mark Boal (who also serves as an executive producer) has some genuinely gritty pop to it all and while we’ve seen stories centered around the drug trade before we really have never seen it from this fresh perspective of men who in their own right are all heroes but kind find away to get back into their normal lives and see this as an opportunity to actually get some value out of the things that they’ve done and have been trained to do. Chandor and Boal don’t over romanticize the situation at any stage and we see career warriors lose track of what the right reasons are for being in the middle of the chaos that crime and violence of the drug trade tends to stir up. It’s a film that in spite of the occasional gap in logic keeps us visually engaged and even more importantly emotionally present thanks to some solid performances in the ensemble.
Ben Affleck may have top billing as Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis; the former commander of this elite unit but this film unquestionably belongs to Oscar Isaac. It’s rare to see an actor who is actually adept enough at playing emotional sensitive and bad-ass action hero all at the same time, but Isaac pulls that off in his sleep. As Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia he looks for a way for his years and the years of his friends and partners spent in harm’s way to have some commensurate value only to ultimately discover the real value of the life that he has led. Affleck plays opposite him as Davis quite well as a world weary warrior who seemingly can’t find away to fit back in with normal society.
In many ways, none of these men can. They all have their demons and Pedro Pascal, Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund round out the ensemble nicely give us a subtle glimpse at the genuinely humanistic toll that the men and women who put themselves in harms ways in conflict areas like Columbia each and every day.
Ultimately, Triple Frontier gives us somewhat of a fresh angle on a well worn story that really gets carried over the goal line by make us care about not only the action and drama in front of our eyes but by the men behind it.
Triple Frontier is playing exclusively at the TIFF Bell Lightbox here in downtown Toronto until it launches on the Netflix streaming service on March 13th.