It is difficult not to notice the increasing amount of content in Netflix’s library. Seeing what’s approaching on the horizon in regards to rival streaming services like Disney and Apple (the forming vowing to the “Netflix killer”), the company is working overtime to create and obtain new original content that will keep their viewership signed up and thoroughly entertained. One of those original projects came in the form of a screenplay called Triple Frontier from 2010, written by Academy Award winner Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) and J.C. Chandor (Margin Call). After jumping from studio to studio and going through multiple casting changes, Netflix acquired the action-drama which went on to be directed by Chandor and starring Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garret Hedlund and Pedro Pascal.
Set in present day, Triple Frontier tells the story of five Special Forces buddies trying to make ends meet after their retirement from active duty. “Pope” (Isaac) has been working under contract with authorities in South America to bring down the cocaine cartel boss Gabriel Martin Lorea (played by Reynaldo Gallegos). After discovering his location with the help of an informant, “Pope” returns to the U.S. to meet up with his four brothers in arms “Redfly”, “Ironhead”, “Catfish” and Ben (Affleck, Hunnam, Pascal and Hedlund, respectively) to make them a generous offer: accompany him on a secret operation to kill Lorea and rob him of all his cash hidden in his home. Using the angle that they have not been adequately compensated by their government for the blood they have spilled and wounds they have suffered, “Pope” succeeds in getting the others to join him on his mission to the amazon jungle on the Triple Frontier–the area of the amazon along the borders of Peru, Brazil and Columbia. However, things do not go as planned and they find themselves in a life-or-death predicament far from home.
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While Triple Frontier is an intense and captivating action thriller. The charisma and energy between the main cast is undeniable with each man fully embracing their characters. They exude the spirit and personalities of ex Special Forces types, honing in that sense of brotherhood that is shared among warriors who have bled together in battle. It is also apparent the level of training these actors obtained, displaying precise, pinpoint military tactics in the second act’s raid of Lorea’s amazon home. Their portrayals are a mix of stubborn leader “Redfly” to cautious and strategic “Ironhead” to young and eager Ben. “Pope” and “Catfish” have a Latin connection that comes off fluid, not forced, as if their families have known each other for decades. All of it comes off natural and believable.
What could have been just a shoot-em-up action flick turns into a complex character analysis of each man as they handle the moral conflict of the actions they have taken. Actions that defy everything they were trained in the United States Special Forces. That level of conflict is a staple in Mark Boal’s writing. In his stories, he reveals operations that are much heavier than just “kill the bad guy” when it comes to the psyche of the person tasked with doing the killing. It was apparent in The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty and it continues in Triple Frontier. Additionally, Chandor’s directing is superb. Whether a light-hearted bar setting, the seizing of the Lorea home, flying a large military helicopter over the Andes Mountains or an intense, gunfire-filled chase scene along the shoreline of Peru, Chandor and cinematographer Roman Vasyanov (Fury, End Of Watch) place the audience right alongside these five men grasping at any lifeline for safety.
Triple Frontier once again proves that Netflix is determined to be viewed as a production company as well as a streaming service. The talent in this film, both in front of and behind the camera, shows the commitment they have in acquiring quality creators who can provide the level of escapist entertainment Netflix subscribers yearn for. Triple Frontier delivers as a character morality test, emotional drama and entertaining action flick, all rolled into one. In the action/drama genre, this film is a solid addition to the ranks.