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Netflix delivers its first triumph of 2019 with Triple Frontier, which delivers a grim take on a typical heist plot. With an all star cast lead by Oscar Isaac, Triple Frontier takes us on a rough hike through the wilderness as our team of veterans take on a once in a lifetime score that could change everything.
Director J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, All is Lost) takes on this heist thriller, and it’s an entirely separate theme in comparison to his other films. Triple Frontier capitalizes on the environmental elements of the character’s travels, with disastrous conditions around every corner. While I personally haven’t had the chance to see any of Chandor’s other films, after seeing the gritty take on the unrelenting wilderness he conveys in Triple Frontier, I have the urge to cautiously binge his prior work. With every additional scene, Chandor’s direction becomes more tense and unnerving, as the chance of survival for each team member grows slimmer and slimmer. Chandor’s direction is disheartening to watch as the triumphs of characters quickly shifts into everyone’s misfortune.
Five semi-retired veterans decide to perform their own classified mission to obtain millions of dollars of cash that is being kept safe in the depths of the jungle. Using their skills from years of military combat, they decide to utilize them for their own benefit and to retire for good with financial security. The plot deals with the heist itself and the grim outcome that success has on the people involved, especially when egos overshadow the rest of the mission. Triple Frontier is a grim vision of what a heist can become even if executed correctly, but when egos collide, trouble commonly brews. Unpredictable, unsettling, and tense beyond belief, the team must face not only their environment but themselves as they make their voyage home.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Oscar Isaac leads an all star cast, made up of Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal, and Adria Arjona as they decide to pull off an incredibly risky heist to change their lives forever. The first half hour focuses on Isaac’s character discovering the fortune hidden away, while the next half hour drives home Isaac’s connection with his fellow vets and actually participating in the heist. Once the heist concludes, the next hour of the film is driven by the team’s escape. As their chances for escape become slimmer and slimmer, egos are matched and strong performances convey a hostile mentality against enemies and those who were once colleagues. The cast work well with one another, and while some may see several as “stiff,” I’d say it’s much more of a proper military mentality that we’ve seen portrayed aplenty in film after film. Those performances mixed with the flip of a switch alertness of most the team provides a pleasant mixture in personalities.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Fleetwood Mac, Metallica, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, and more stack this killer soundtrack. The score however isn’t a highlight of the film, as it’s a rather typical action/adventure score; much like something found in films like The Expendables. The thrilling score works incredibly well during the tense scenes involving the heist or the journey home, but it never brings anything new to the table. Keeping up with the grim tone of the film while maintaining a consistent excitement throughout, Disasterpeace’s score doesn’t hold a candle to any of his prior work (It Follows, Fez).
If I had to take a guess as to whether a majority of the film was filmed in an actual outdoor location rather than green screen, I’d say that it was primarily on location - beyond the obvious helicopter shots and dangerous scenarios. The captured terrains are visually stunning, as they strive to represent an atmospheric villainous character that brings setbacks at every turn to all of the characters as they turn on themselves.
Would I ever rewatch Triple Frontier? No. However that doesn’t disqualify it from being a good or even great film, it’s just far too grim and slow for my liking. The first hour is a fun, intense heist, but once that hour is up, the real voyage begins and things start to spiral into turmoil from there. It’s a crawl past the hour mark, but a journey worth seeing at least once in order to witness another side of a heist than you usually don’t get the opportunity to witness in a film.