Everyone loves seeing film folk partake in ‘one last job’, but even more so when everything goes south. Such is the case for Triple Frontier, which is aiming to strap you down for a tense effort but does little to reinvigorate that familiar structure it’s sitting you down for. Setting the tone in what feels like a Sicario-like opener, Oscar Isaac is the ex-military rough-nut who bands his old war buddies together for a job that’s strictly off the books. The gig is simple; infiltrate a major drug lord’s pad in the middle of the jungle, eliminate him, and take his money. Alright, it’s not so simple, but for these guys, it shouldn’t be an issue, and it’s not hard to refuse either.
Hustling in on the action is Ben Affleck’s Tom “Redfly” Davis – a divorced and struggling real estate agent, who only feels at his best when he ‘has a gun in his hand’. There’s also brothers William and Ben Miller played by Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund (which you’d buy if the former could crack that accent he’s not fixed since Sons of Anarchy) and currently grounded pilot Francisco “Catfish” Morales played by the always entertaining Pedro Pascal. All are seasoned warriors with no war left to fight, taking the chance of getting millions with little hesitation.
Director J.C Chandor goes through the motions of introducing this team but never really makes them feel like one. Camaraderie is at a minimum besides Hunnam and Hedlund, with this quintet sharing all the fizz of a spent beer can. Thankfully, the excitement levels briefly rise though, when its time to suit up. The period spent sizing up the joint and eventually infiltrating it is interesting in Triple Frontier mainly due to its simplicity. There’s no sharp camera work yanked from an Ocean’s movie; instead, the team are casing the joint from the shadow of the jungle before they break into it, and even that it is as tight and efficient as you’d hope from former ex-military boys.
The tension is shortlived though because as soon as the plan goes south, the film overall is not too far behind. The pacing doesn’t necessarily die, but the urge to stay invested dissipates as we follow these former war buddies go through the motions of lashing out at one another as they begin to wonder if this was all worth it. The most impressive effort comes from Affleck as Redfly, whose greed and desperation to help his family and rebuild a life he feels so non-existent in becomes overwhelming. Triple Frontier sees him in one of his best performances in recent years, presenting himself as the most worn down and bitter of the group, just getting by in a world he doesn’t belong, and believably so.
Giving him this drive is Oscar Isaac, who charms all his teammates and ultimately the viewer into investing in the mission. He’s stupidly smooth, as Santiago “Pope” Garcia, roping in everyone and losing his grip as everything starts to fall apart. Heck, he’d be a character deserved of his own solo gig if Netflix were brave enough. That’s a frontier worth venturing to, because this one, even with its few memorable moments doesn’t feel like one worth revisiting.