Apr 26, 2019
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews
What we are witnessing is a major upheaval in the film industry. Unlike the advent of sound and the demise of the studio system, which were also extreme changes, the fact that cable companies have gradually been creating their own products has not been met with tumult or notoriety. The transition has been fairly smooth with only some derision by the established media. Netflix has been the leader in this movement, but Amazon and Hulu are close behind and recently Apple has joined the group. The flicks produced are neither cheap nor hastily formatted. Often times films are given a brief theatrical release before they are ensconced in the streaming platform. Most display strong production values and star A-list actors. Despite his recent multiple stints in rehab, how much more A-list one can get than the two time Oscar winner, producer, director and general heart throb, Ben Affleck? This brings us to Triple Frontier from Netflix. The title refers to the borders between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
The screenplay was co-written by Mark Boal who also penned The Hurt Locker and there are some similarities to that story line. The band of brothers consists of men we have met before. They are not stereotypes, they are more conventions that are expected and are needed to fuel the plot. There is the alpha leader, a dutiful second banana and a couple of "wild cards" whose behavior is less predictable and of course, there is a beautiful girl involved to add spice. The plan is Oscar Isaac's idea. He is functioning as some kind of police person in a South American country, so he is well aware of many illicit activities. His plan is to recruit his fellow former special ops members to rob a local drug lord. After all, the loot is ill-gotten gain to begin with. Oscar Issac whose full name is Oscar Isaac Hernandez is Guatemalan and he and Chilean born Pedro Pascal of Narcos and Game of Thrones get to use their Spanish. Charlie Hunnam is English, and Affleck and Garrett Hedlund are American. This rounds out the gang of five. After living on the edge these men, especially Affleck find that living a normal life can be excruciatingly boring. With the girl as informant, they steal millions, maybe billions of dollars while the crime family, ironically, is at Mass. Now they must transport this extremely heavy load across the Andes to a waiting ship. The money is put in duffle bags and then in a dangling net that is suspended from the bottom of a rickety, overloaded helicopter. It is perilous. It is adventurous. Not everyone will survive. At one point the bunch is so cold that in their desperation they make a bonfire with the money to keep warm. There are disagreements but the quintet never really turn on one another. They do, however, eventually negate Gordon Gecko's dictum, "Greed is Good!"
Action packed, filmed in lush tropical jungles and stark mountain ranges, sparked with chemically enhanced explosions, written by respected writers and featuring box office magnet actors, there is nothing shoddy about this production. The marauding men experience some contrition at the end and the movie would have us believe these are honorable men in a Robin Hood sort of way even though they left a pile of bodies in their wake. Don't make value judgments, just relax and enjoy the merry ride.
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