New territory for SMReviews. It’s true that what I have been doing is favouring cinematic released films partly down to my support for cinemas, they’re magical places where minds and complexes can be changed, the right film can affect your view of the world. However, I asked myself should the whole magic of cinema be confined to one space? Film is film, no matter how it is shown to the world, therefore I decided to finally review a Netflix original and coincidently, the honours go to a film that did catch my attention.
Triple Frontier has the right ingredients to warrant your attention from the hardened cast to the mix of tense and fast action scenes. While the film certainly lives up to this description at the start, the more it continues, the more the film starts to unravel itself. Your opinion of Triple Frontier from the beginning will be very different by the time the credits roll.
So, what did this film do right and how could it go so wrong? We start with the narrative. it is instantly recognizable as a “band of brothers” type of ordeal which has been seen countless times. But the trick with Triple Frontier is the believable motivations of the characters that bring them together. Each character has a wrong in their life that they want to set straight, it even throws in a little social commentary on how men who have fought and taken many bullets for their country are thrown back into ordinary life with little to no thanks or respect. There nothing else hiding behind their motivations, no links, no past, just simple motivation that makes the characters brotherhood as hard as they are.
These characters are on a mission to kill a South American drug lord Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos) and steal his fortune so that can write the wrongs in their lives. In Triple Frontier, this fortune is a powerful motivator and weight on the characters shoulders, upon its discovery it instantly changes our perspective on the characters where greed takes over honour. Nowhere is this clearer than the change in ‘Redfly’ (Ben Affleck), with his motivation of rekindling his relationship with his daughter, you think before the heist is the honourable, family type man of the group. It’s his character that becomes the more hypnotised to the vast amounts of money wanting to trail away from the plan for the sake of getting more money which isn’t that much of a heavy curveball but a curveball nonetheless.
Another unexpected curveball is where the fraction in the group arises. Going by the premise, you would think that it all goes wrong during the heist. I’m glad that director and writer J.C Chandor realised how simple this would make the film and instead shows the fractions after the heist when the group must transport sacks and sacks of money through the landscapes of South America. This at first is a nice surprise away from the standard narratives, it focuses on a section that would be considerably shortened in any other film like Triple Frontier and dedicates it to showing how loyal each man is to everyone. The more money is thrown away, the larger the tensions in the characters build.
I talked about the landscapes of South America as the backdrop of Triple Frontier and they’re shown to absolute beauty. We journey through Columbian jungles and slums, as well as the snow-capped & rugged terrain of the Andes which are captured amazingly by cinematographer Roman Vasyanov. A Fantastic advert for the natural beauty of South America.
Now the impressiveness of Triple Frontier for some could be enough, but the film begins to unravel itself almost to the point of being a grind to watch, and what you thought was special at the beginning of the film, you start to question towards the end. For instance, it’s impossible to tell if these men were following are “good guys”, are they justified good guys? Are they neutral? Because they commit some horrible acts on their journey.
The grindiest of scenes is certainly the final action scene, if you plotted each action scene on a graph of intensity, there would be a constant decline. It feels like the intensity levels of each action scene are reversed, where the last should be the most intense and the first should be the build-up for things to come. For Triple Frontier, it’s a real let down considering how enthralling the first half can be. Apparently Triple Frontier is another film that spent a lot of time in development hell which I never knew at the time, the filmmakers have done well to mask this, but it didn’t surprise me after seeing the film’s conclusion.
All in all, Triple Frontier is going to some be a let-down film, it gets off to a great start with some great character building and action, but the quality of what the filmmakers are trying to accomplish gets weaker and weaker until the pacing is to a crawl and everything afterwards feels underwhelming. Triple Frontier has a talented cast and great locations to be able to pull off one of the most spectacular looking action films, but the spectacularity of the whole film is overshadowed by how slow it becomes.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen Triple Frontier? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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