Triple Frontier is an action thriller, bro, a real edge-of-your-seat heist film, bro, and also really sticks it to the man when it dares to mention how much veterans are left behind in society, bro.
Bro, there’s nothing like this movie, except a bunch of other movies that also have a bunch of ex-military men that team up for a heist like no other (or something equally heroic but also rebellious sounding). Brothers-in-arms, right until money comes into play, and then we randomly have one bro, the Ben Affleck bro, getting greedy and compromising his morals that were never established anyway and forgetting all his ex-special forces training when the bros are robbing the boss of a drug cartel. Obviously, things go wrong and the bros are no longer in an A-Team heist movie like they thought, but a heist movie where their getaway plane is carrying too much weight because of all the money they stole.
It starts with a Sicario-esque raid on a house somewhere in the multi-border zone of South America (what “triple frontier” most likely refers to, but this is never explained) that actually sets up an interesting dynamic between Pope (Issac) and the government he works for. He’s obsessed with catching Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos), a drug lord who’s been corrupting the area for years. He has an informant who gets caught in the raid, but manages to escape the brutal execution by the police of the remaining people in the house. It’s a decent set up, with enough dramatic tension established between Pope and his informant Yovanna (Adria Arjona), who’s trying to save her brother from Lorea’s influence. But all this interesting set up gets lost in the very next scene, as Pope heads back to the States to recruit his friends into raiding Lorea’s house, the location of which was given by Yovanna.
That’s when we meet the rest of the bros: Tom (Affleck,) William (Charlie Hunnam,) Ben (Garrett Hedlund,) and Francisco (Predro Pascal). Besides Issac, the performances are wooden and charmless. It doesn’t help that the script (written by Mark Boal of Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker) is dry in both dialogue and plot, with a good amount of run time dedicated to Hunnam and Hedlund delivering lines such as “we need to get back in the game,” with as little emotion as the dialogue deserves.
The “bro” of it all was mostly a joke, but the film really does have that bro-mentality. If it had tried doing something more with it, like establishing it’s characters and their relationships to each other (all we know is they served together, and Affleck was probably their captain — at least, that’s how they treat him, but it’s never explicitly stated). Instead, these characters are such blank slates that when Tom starts compromising the mission for more money than they need, it’s difficult to grasp whether this is just who the character is. The only motivation ever given is that these ex-special forces feel left behind by society since serving their country. This is a valid motivation, one that is easy to understand. But beyond two scenes, it’s never brought up again. The morals of each character is also murky in that we never know if they’re falling from grace or hit the ground a long time ago.
If we were to have a serious talk about the lack of originality lately in Hollywood , Triple Frontier is a good example — we’ve had this film before. This one just happens to be a more uninspiring and less-than-thrilling version of this particular trope of action films.