I’m not gonna lie. The only reason I watched “Triple Frontier” was because I didn’t think I could pass up a movie that featured Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac and Charlie Hunnam. Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal round out a pretty fantastic cast.
The film isn’t my typical fare, but I was intrigued. Plus, the film isn’t your standard action film. After all, this isn’t a younger version of the “Expendables” or something ridiculous like that.
“Triple Frontier” follows a group of former solders, all special forces, years after they’ve left the service. Pope (Isaac) is a consultant for Colombian police. He helps dirty cops get things done. Ironhead (Hunnam) is in private security. Benny (Hedlund) is an MMA fighter. Frankie (Pascal) is a grounded pilot that got busted for cocaine. And perhaps the most miserable of all is Tom (Affleck), a real estate agent with a failed marriage, a teenage daughter and a definite lack of skill when it comes to selling condos.
Pope reaches out to his old buddies to help with a simple recon job: help him scope out a millionaire drug dealer, Gabriel Martin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos), in Brazil because he desperately wants to take him down. They each agree and collect a $17,000 reconnaissance fee, but the mission becomes something bigger. The kingpin has $75 million stashed in his home, and the group has a plan that will net them the cash with only one fatality: Lorea.
Of course, nothing goes to plan, and the simple robbery/murder becomes something much bigger that will test their friendship, morals and skills.
When I told my BFF I’d watched “Triple Frontier,” she asked what I thought. My answer was fairly simple: I was kinda bored the first hour or so. It’s a standard heist movie. A group of guys gets together and comes up with a plan to commit a robbery in a seemingly impenetrable fortress. It’s something we’ve seen plenty of times before, and it’s nothing that fascinating. Sure, there are some things that kind of shake up the status quo, including a really clever way to keep your money safe. I was still kinda bored.
It’s only after the heist has gone down, and so many things have gone wrong that the film truly starts to set itself apart from the standard heist movie. The group has gotten their money, but it wasn’t with minimal bloodshed, as they’d hoped. They’ve also managed to get a significantly larger amount of money than originally intended. This leaves them with one important question: What’s next?
After all, they can’t stay in Brazil. An informant, Yovanna (Adria Arjona), who made the entire operation possible, needs to be dealt with one way or another. (Pope promised her money and freedom for her brother and her if she helped him nail Lorea.) Pope is determined to honor his promise to her, but Tom isn’t so sure she’s not a threat to be silenced.
And that’s the thing. We watch them begin to unravel as greed takes hold. Tom, who went on this mission to build a better life for his daughters, actually suggests Yovanna and her brother should be killed. (Now, granted, Pope was sleeping with her and used her for his own gain, so he’s not exactly a winner either.)
“Triple Frontier” makes you question these men and all of their actions. Do you root for them because they’re the good guys, or do you silently hope they’ll lose everything because they aren’t exactly good men?
After all, Lorea was a bad man, but the number of people they kill during their mission and the resulting attempt to make it home with the money has them making a lot of questionable decisions. None of the men were very likable before the heist. Tom has the personality of a wet noodle and was possibly driving his kid around while drinking a beer. Pope manipulated his friends and lover to get what he wanted. The rest of them don’t really have a lot of personality aside from the brotherhood they’ve built with each other.
But, as their Brazilian trip progresses, they begin to break down emotionally, as well as physically. Killing becomes easy for some of them. They treat ending lives like eating a can of Pringles. (You know, once you pop, you can’t stop.) Each man seems to wage a small war, not with those around him but within himself. Questionable actions are justified. Alliances broken. Lives deemed expendable.
“Triple Frontier” is so much more than a heist movie. It’s not an action adventure, although there are definitely a lot of moments that fit the genre. It’s a morality play. It’s a tale of friendship. It’s a film that makes the audience question their own beliefs and ask ourselves: “What would you do?” It challenges the notion that soldiers are trained to kill and serve and then abandoned once their service is done. It’s a fascinating blend of ideas. And, the last hour makes up for the slow start.