In recent months, Netflix has been pumping out original content faster than a student at 4 am with three essays due the next day. In the midst of all of this new content there have been plenty of hits, but along with this plenty of misses. This addresses the very troubling issue with the platform at the moment, truly emphasising that quantity does not equal quality. Furthermore, this problem makes it all the harder for one of the ‘Netflix Originals’ to stand out above the rest, as Triple Frontier unfortunately fails to do.
Co-written and directed by J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, Margin Call), Triple Frontier tells the tale of a group ageing ex-special force team members who regroup and plan to steal a drug lord’s hidden fortune, but things very quickly turn sour. The aspect which holds this film together the most is the strong and convincing chemistry between the five leads. The rapport between the characters is both charming and intense when it needs to be, which keeps the film entertaining throughout, as the heroes guide you through the adventure. Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck especially deliver powerful performances, which focus on the harsh and heavy memories left cemented in the retired soldiers’ brains. The moments which discuss these issues such as the ethics of the military and handling post-traumatic stress disorder, are compelling and give the film a thoughtfully deeper meaning, but unfortunately these beats are few and far between.
The issues with this film lie in the fact that it does not strive to be anything more than a run-of-the-mill action-adventure movie, and even then, it still struggles to deliver much action or adventure. The action scenes throughout the film are very underwhelming, offering little more than a few explosions in places and a small exchange of gunfire. A grand opening scene is key to any successful action movie, but here it’s just so bland, with low stakes and even lower tension. The stakes remain low in most scenes to come as the lead characters, who all seem to have the military abilities of a John Wick, seamlessly and quickly take down their opponents with no gratification for the viewer.
It remains infeasible throughout that a group of five men who served in the military would agree to carry out an incredibly risky heist that could easily result in any of their deaths, especially with the very little convincing it takes from Isaac to get them to do so. The film is only made less cogent due to the strange editing undertaken by Ron Patane. Scenes with incredibly different tones are cut together in a confusing way, which at times breaks the atmosphere and setting.
Overall, whilst Triple Frontier delivers heartfelt moments of what it’s like to live as a retired soldier as well as an enjoyable plot and cast of characters, it fails to achieve much more than this, with plenty of lost potential for great action and deeper themes. The real lesson learnt from the film isn’t to do with anything in the plot, but rather that Netflix should leave action blockbusters for the big screen to handle.
By Rory Yeates
Image courtesy of Engaget.com