“So, the question is, do we finally get to use our skills for our own benefit and actually change something?”
The moment you put on that uniform, you’ve signed up for a lifelong commitment. It’s unlike any other job. The phrase “leave work at work” doesn’t apply. The darkness stays with you. It’s not something you can wash off or put to the side. It is a shadow, a small creature nestled in your cranium. It’s that paranoid itch, the second guessing yourself. It is a parasite.
You want out and you know where the door is. Your hand’s on the knob but in a final moment of indecision, you let go because there’s no going back, because there’s no turning back the clock, because maybe the best place for you is in the wind, in the heat of the fight. This is what you’ve trained for. This is what you do. This is where you’re home. This is who you’ve become. You are both warrior and war.
Triple Frontier is an homage to the after phase of our servicemen and women because for many of them, the wars never stop. Inner turmoil, doubt and past transgressions haunt them, things we can relate to but topics more sinister than things we’ve ever experienced. Like the men in this story, there comes a midlife crisis where we start to ask ourselves important questions. Did we do what we came to do? Did we live the dream? Or has it all been for nothing?
It is in these moments where we once again revisit the question of our self-worth. Once we determine the answer to that pivotal inquiry, we, as people, can be capable of rash actions in pursuit of a dream we realize has slipped through our fingers. So is the case with Santiago Garcia (Oscar Isaac), a man who envisioned a future where drug lords would no longer rule countries and politicians would be leaders rather than figureheads for private interests. He’s served his time and returned to the fray as a contractor. There is still so much to do and so little time. It’s a dream Garcia will never get to see, only dream of. The rest of his life looks derelict and meaningless. He needs to do something.
Desperation can be a great motivator. When pushed to the brink, we make some of our most poignant decisions. We saw it in Law Abiding Citizen, if you’ve been paying attention to my recent content. Our aspirations and what we really want, sometimes we don’t realize how much we desire these until we see them start to crumble. We go into a fervor, become possessed in our craving. It’s all we can think about. It’s all we can live for.
Desperation can be a tragic flaw. When surrounded, we lust after vices. Our priorities become a cobweb of desires and we drive ourselves into a frenzy, reaching for anything we can grab our hands on. The apocalypse is on our doorstep. We need to acquire all the power, all the money, we need ALL of everything. We will leave nothing and nothing will stand in our way.
Director J.C. Chandor exists in the early stages as a director but checks my box in the writing category early on. This is a premise with good footing, one not easily knocked off balance. It’s relatable for the struggle, different because of the characters at play. These are men who dedicated their lives to country and it did not pay the dividends they were promised. Does this make them any less of a soldier? Are their values any less ardent because of this belief?
Triple Frontier is a tragedy, an ode to the old Greek tales passed down through the ages. Lines will be crossed. Shadowed paths will be taken. Debris and trash will be left on the wayside.
It’s also a heist film and as with all thievery, things do not go according to plan. Life finds a way to intervene.
This Netflix original is well cast, starring Ben Affleck, who is becoming one of my favorite actors, Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal of The Great Wall fame. Affleck can’t help but outshine his counterparts, displaying inner turmoil and conflict quite easily. That said, the film lacks a central figure. Every great heist film has an imposing star, sometimes two in the case of Inside Man. Every tragedy has a tragic hero. All of these characters qualify for the role but none are afforded the opportunity to truly embrace it, leaving the film faceless. No matter how great a shape one may possess, it’s hard to be memorable without a face.
Triple Frontier struggles to tread water on the back half. It plays true to its identity but those two issues above bode a heavier load as the movie travels on. It just runs out of gas. I don’t know the cause but I have some theories, including a hazard of production delays, director changes and recasts over nearly eight years.
It’s not as visually stirring as I felt it was capable of considering the settings utilized. Without a cover, a story like this could have used photography, image creation, anything bedazzling and Triple Frontier just doesn’t have it.
It’s becoming the norm with Netflix and look, I’m a big supporter of Netflix. A lot of the content I cover comes from that site. I’m still encouraged by the amount of funds they pour into original content but stuff like this, whilst still promising, can also be frustrating for someone who looks at content critically because I see the fault lines. The tape and whiteout are not so easily hidden from a trained eye. Would also be nice if they wouldn’t spend $100 million on a tv show rental but that’s for another time.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding Citizen, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Conjuring, Sinister)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Fast and the Furious, Brooklyn’s Finest, Death Race, Wind River, Tommy Boy)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Doom, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Power Rangers, Underworld: Evolution)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-Rise, Most Likely to Die, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Crow: City of Angels, Centurion)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for Triple Frontier: 79.
Triple Frontier is another Netflix original with potential that feels underdeveloped. I’m unsure if any of my readers have any experience with composing film. I did back in the day. An underdeveloped photo leaves blurred colors, faded edge work but generally strong contours. Kinda like Triple Frontier.