“Triple Frontier” is part war movie, part heist movie. It involves five guys who served together in Special Ops — Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal — who reunite to go to South America and take on the head of a cartel who has tens of millions of dollars stashed in his home. The plan is to take him out, steal his money, then get home as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan, mostly because of greed — there’s a lot more money in that house than they thought and Affleck, who is supposed to be the master planner who “never misses a hard out,” can’t resist grabbing as much as possible. That leads to logistical problems, which create obstacles to their escape and tear at threads within the group.
Although Affleck gets top billing, the movie really belongs to Isaac. It’s his idea, which he talked his former colleagues into undertaking, and he’s the one who gets a subplot with a local woman with insider connections. The others fulfill the tough-military-guy stereotypes, with Affleck the only one whose back story is filled in a bit, starting with the family he’s leaving behind to take on the get-rich-quick mission.
I won’t give away any more of the plot, but I will say that it’s not as interesting or entertaining as another soldiers-stealing-loot movie, “Kelly’s Heroes,” from 1970. That one had its own all-star cast: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor, Donald Sutherland, Gavin McLeod, Stuart Margolin, and Harry Dean Stanton. The biggest difference between the two is that “Kelly’s Heroes” had a sense of humor and humanity, while “Triple Frontier” has neither.
Movies like this hinge on two things: the chemistry between the five guys, and the expertise of the team behind the cameras. That includes director JC Chandor, who co-wrote the script with Mark Boal, who wrote and produced “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker” with Kathryn Bigelow, who is one of the producers of this movie.
Chandor keeps the action moving, even as the team cuts its way through the jungle, or gets chased in pickups by remnants of the cartel boss’ army. I was somewhat invested in how (and whether) the team would get out of harm’s way, but wasn’t all that riveted by the journey.
I give “Triple Frontier” a 5 out of 10. It will be in theaters for a week beginning today, then debut on Netflix on March 13th.