With the world glorifying heroes in a way never before seen on the silver screen, Triple Frontier investigates what heroism looks like when faced by greed.
Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac) has been hot on the heels of a crime boss in South America for some time but learns it was all for naught due to the corrupt local police. So, he brings in his own men, former special forces and people once known as warriors. But they won’t be completing the mission for their country, and with the flag no longer on their shoulder, they find their morals and loyalty are in question.
Triple Frontier has incredible locations, from tightly packed buildings to mountainous terrains. The cinematography takes this in and allows the space to direct what the audience sees. In tightly spaced jungle, the audience finds themselves pressed closely to the soldiers, whereas in open terrain on the mountains, the visuals open to show just how solitary their mission is. The contrast across all the locations adds to the impossible nature of what the crew must do, and it coincides perfectly with the journey.
The journey of the characters is what really draws the audience in. Aside from Pope, the team, consisting Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis (Ben Affleck), William ‘Ironhead’ Miller (Charlie Hunnam), Ben Muller (Garrett Hedlund), and Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales (Pedro Pascal), all join the mission reluctantly. They’re the retirees who have been forgotten about by the country they so militantly served and are now left with health problems, mental wounds, and MMA fights to earn a quick buck.
It’s very easy to root for these men. They’re going in, taking down the bad guy, and taking the money for themselves, and as the audience gets to know each character they start to believe the characters’ justifications for the very grey mission. The team have the moral high ground. They’re the good guys who abide by their rules. And that’s the case until they find the money.
The cash is a foul turning point for the men and as they progress to escape the country, it chips away at everything they once believed in. It’s fascinating to see them all slowly fall from grace, the men that the audience once believed were righteous.
This sort of fall from grace is a slippery slope for audiences. The story needs to sell the idea that these militant men could edge away from planning to kill one crime boss to the potential of shooting children. Triple Frontier does succeed in doing this, but it is at the expense of pacing.
It takes 45 minutes for the crew to initiate the robbery, and although the film uses this time to build a comradery between the men and credibility that they actually are ‘warriors’, it is to its own detriment. There is an incredible introduction to the character Pope and his mission against the crime boss, but there is a lack of action between this and the central mission.
Building the comradery between the men is definitely necessary and there is an interesting investigation into who they are compared to who they become. But the slow pace here will turn viewers away especially when there is an expectation for high action.
When the men do get into the thick of action, the calculated cinematography and regimented training makes for incredible entertainment. Seeing them work as a unit to infiltrate the crime boss’s compound is amazing but it all seemed to take a back seat to building each of the characters.
Character building is often a missing aspect in solely action films, so the attention given to this aspect in Triple Frontier is refreshing. But the scale was unbalanced. They either needed to add another action sequence or cut back on the initial 45 minutes to solve this pacing issue.
Although the pacing is a point of criticism, the characters, cinematography, and landscape have come together to create an action film unlike what I have seen before. The character development itself creates an interesting story but also highlights the possible unfair nature that is military retirement. I wouldn’t recommend Triple Frontier to movie goers who enjoy all out action, but I would recommend it if you’re interested in seeing well written character development.