Triple Frontier – Netflix movie review: “swaps narrative nuance for generic action”

Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac plan a daring raid on a narcotics kingpin in this testosterone-heavy heist movie from JC Chandor

TRIPLE FRONTIER (2019) - pictured L-R: Oscar Isaac ("Pope")
and Ben Affleck ("Redfly")
Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon / Courtesy of Netflix


TF_DAY37-0495.RAF

★★

Director JC Chandor specialises in male crises, whether in high finance (Margin Call) or on a stricken yacht (All Is Lost). But this South American-set escape thriller, co-written with Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal, swaps narrative nuance for generic action, as an all-purpose, testosterone-pumped raid on the jungle hideaway of a narcotics kingpin by five mercenaries morphs into an epic test of endurance in the style of The Way Back.

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The Crown - Matt Smith, Peter Morgan, Claire Foy - Writer/Creator Peter Morgan with Matt Smith (Prince Philip) and Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth II) (Netflix, TL)

There are hints, too, of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, as suave leader Oscar Isaac, reckless Charlie Hunnam, depressed Ben Affleck, cowboy Garrett Hedlund and quiet Pedro Pascal (Narcos) partially bungle a Robin Hood-style heist through their own greed.

While earthily enough shot in Colombia and Hawaii, the story strains as much as the seams of the gym-bulked squad’s vests. There are enjoyable moments, such as when the cash burdens the team’s escape through cocaine plantations and eventually over the Andes, where a bonfire of banknotes keeps them warm. But it all boils back down to manly hugs, combat codenames (“Catfish”, “Pope”) and “full-on cowboy s**t”.

Uniquely for Chandor, we’ve seen it all before.

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Triple Frontier is on Netflix