Triple Frontier (2019)

tripleIts perhaps fortunate that I watched Triple Frontier in blissful ignorance of the pedigree of creatives behind it- in particular that it was directed by J C Chandor, who had earlier made two films I particularly enjoyed- All is Lost and A Most Violent Year. While I enjoyed Triple Frontier, it is clearly not in the same league as either of those two earlier films (in hindsight, maybe the casting of Oscar Isaac was a clue). From what I gather, Triple Frontier has had a long and protracted development history behind it (Kathryn Bigelow at one time marked to direct it, and a cast that at one time included Tom Hanks) – and it’s perhaps surprising that it has turned out as good as it has, or actually finally got made at all. At any rate, it’s probably not what I would call ‘a J C Chandor film’ in just the same way as several of Ridley Scott’s films were likely made as a ‘director for hire’ rather than a personal project (play a game, guess which ones). Which is a protracted way of me saying that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it quite so much had I been saddled with the expectations from the director’s name/past work. Sometimes you just have to judge a movie by itself, on its own terms.

So Triple Frontier (no, can’t say the title makes a lot of sense even after having seen the film) is a sort of old-fashioned action adventure/heist yarn, in which a bunch of embittered/financially challenged ax-Army Rangers buddies are recruited by one of their colleagues, who knows about a drug dealer down in a South American jungle whose millions of ill-gotten dollars could solve our heroes life problems. Hell, a premise like that, it could have been a great Predator sequel, but nevermind. So yeah, its part A-Team, part Sicario, part heist picture, part buddy picture, part man-against-nature picture. It should have been in all likelihood a terrible mess, and maybe it still is a bit of a mess, but it does actually work.

Sure, there are a few issues with the script, and characters making some odd choices just to further that script towards its various twists and plot-points, but that kind of thing can be inevitable from such a long gestation period and so many hands messing with it over the years. At any rate, the film does pack a few genuine surprises that I didn’t see coming.

It doesn’t hurt that it looks absolutely gorgeous. This is a movie with a capital ‘M’ and not at all what you’d expect – as I have noted before, some of these Netflix Originals are far beyond what might have been considered direct to video, or even tv movie, material, several years ago. There is some amazing location photography here and some great action sequences/stunt scenes. Maybe some of the visual effects don’t quite hold up to the scrutiny that this lovingly sharp and detailed image invites, but it really is quite cinematic. I don’t know what streaming compression Netflix is using but this film looked amazing in 4K, a real improvement on the fairly appalling compression artifacts and banding I suffered watching Voice from the Stone on Amazon a few nights ago.


4 thoughts on “Triple Frontier (2019)

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Yeah…. it’s not that good, is it? I was super-excited when I heard this was popping up on Netflix (I knew it was being made but not that it was theirs). But it does seem – with the exception of Roma – that Netflix is where exciting talent go to make their most middling and flawed movies.

    Seems he’s remaking that ‘The Connection’ movie from a few years ago about the French side of The French Connection as a TV series. Oh well.

    Have you seen ‘Margin Call’ yet? It’s such an entertaining film. Amazing cast, all razor-sharp.

    1. No, haven’t seen Margin Call yet, I really need to catch up with that one. Mind, it’s nice to have something that is good just waiting there for a rainy day when I’m thoroughly depressed by bad films in general. There’s a few blu-ray discs on a shelf patiently waiting to save the day in just the same way…

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  3. I liked this a lot. It’s not great, but I thought it was a more-than-solid picture, and it surprised me with the overall direction the plot went in — a rare occurrence nowadays with trailers that blow almost everything. It certainly reminded me that I need to get round to Chandor’s other films (I thought All is Lost was exceptional, but I’ve not seen his other two).

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