Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Review - Triple Frontier

Believe me when I say I was drooling throughout this movie. :D

The cast features 4 actors whose careers I’ve followed closely for years ( or decades, in Ben Affleck’s case ), and whom I consider among the hottest men in the world.

My anticipation was exponentially heightened earlier this month when I attended Netflix’s fan event at Marina Bay Sands. Ben, Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund were present, and I came face to face with Ben and Garrett, though I wasn’t quick enough to snap a proper wefie before the former moved down the line ( big sigh about that one ).

My enthusiasm didn’t wane, however, so when the film was released on Netflix, I watched it the same night, sleep deprivation be damned.

Verdict: I absolutely loved it.

Aside from the cast, I’m also familiar with director J.C. Chandor’s work, having seen all 3 of his previous Hollywood projects. Chandor is an eclectic character whose movies demonstrate an impressive diversity, but he always seemed to cater to a niche audience – until now.

Triple Frontier is Chandor’s foray into military action territory, with no less than Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal ( The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty ) and Chuck Roven ( the Batman trilogy, Wonder Woman, Man of Steel ) producing.

The result is a hard-hitting, heart-pounding action thriller with lots of nail-biting twists, guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat for 2 hours.

The story is fictional and might be viewed unfavourably by military veterans, since the premise involves a group of former Special Ops soldiers going rogue to basically rob and murder a drug lord in order to improve their own situations – i.e. using skills meant for noble purposes to do the exact opposite.

I agree that this will raise a few eyebrows. It probably has already, judging from its average 6/10 score on IMDB ( from critics and viewers ).

It really depends on how you choose to interpret this. If you’re easily bothered by the plot and abhor violence, then this movie is not for you.

But if you’re like me – open-minded and watching just for entertainment – it’ll be a huge blast.

The film’s greatest strength, of course, is its spectacular cast. Although Ben is the only Oscar winner in the group, his fellow actors are no less accomplished. Oscar is part of the Star Wars franchise and was highly acclaimed as the lead in Inside Llewyn Davis; Charlie has been in blockbusters like Pacific Rim ( not to mention he snagged the Christian Grey role before backing out at the last minute ), and Pedro was in Narcos and the Kingsman sequel. I’m not that familiar with Garrett’s filmography, but I do know he was in Tron: Legacy and Unbroken.

This is a veritable dream team. And considering the stressful circumstances the characters keep getting thrown in, strong acting is a great advantage.

Ben’s name may be the first in the credits, but Oscar has way more screen time and is the team leader who rounds everyone up for the heist. ( He also looks amazing! But then, so does everyone else. Kudos to the hair and makeup team! )

The first half hour revolves around the setup, then things start to get interesting, as human nature disrupts their meticulous plan. They may be well-trained soldiers, but when there’s no accountability to a higher authority and they come face to face with hundreds of millions in cash, greed obliterates any good judgment.

I won’t reveal spoilers, so just sit back and watch each disaster unfold ( and boy, do they get hammered ). The best thing about this film is the script never feels like a series of plot gimmicks. Every new obstacle flows smoothly into the overall storyline and I found them all plausible. Anyone who’s had enough life experiences will understand that sometimes, anything that can go wrong will do just that - simultaneously, and at the worst possible time. In this case, it’s meant to add drama, but I can definitely relate.

Another point I appreciate is how each character’s weakness plays a part in every catastrophe ( although it’s quite obvious who’s more to blame compared to the rest ). Some of them might make you cringe, but the script also provides insight into their individual backgrounds and motives, so you do sympathize to a certain extent.

If this movie had been cast with less capable actors, I probably would’ve lost interest halfway. Instead, I remained fully invested until the final scene. Aside from Charlie and Garrett, who are long-time pals in real life, the others hadn’t worked together previously. I guess they really bonded during pre-production boot camp, ‘cos the camaraderie is palpable.

For me, a believable emotional connection is vital. It’s present in abundance here, though thankfully, it doesn’t degenerate into mindless yelling.

What I also notice is how the characters argue over each new complication, but quickly rein in their tempers and get on with the mission at hand, with delayed apologies offered during calmer conditions. It adds texture to the storytelling process – a simple but effective illustration of how strong friendships can survive the worst circumstances.

So there you have it: Triple Frontier is, IMO, an awesome piece of work, due in large part to its director and cast. Pay attention to the stunning action sequences ( air! land! sea! ), but ultimately, it’s the excellent acting which elevates this above most of its counterparts.