There was potential here.  There really was.  Not that it was a particularly original premise; soldiers taking advantage of a chaotic situation to make off with a lot of shady money has been done in Kelly’s Heroes, Three Kings, Renegades, and Sabotage (though that one was DEA, but same general idea).  But for a good movie, an original premise isn’t an absolute necessity, just that it’s done well, with style.

Triple Frontier tried.  It just didn’t try hard enough.

And that’s where the whole thing broke down.  It wasn’t as glaring as some of the failures that Hollywood’s churned out when it comes to military movies.  There wasn’t a lot that was really cringe-worthy.  The characters weren’t bombastic caricatures.  The action wasn’t so over-the-top that it became unbelievable.  (Mostly.  More on that later.)  But too many of the details didn’t come together.

And I’m not even necessarily talking about the physical details, either.  Having multiple members of the team dressed in wildly different sets of gear, from plate carriers to old woodland Interceptor vests, and carrying a variety of M4s and an AK makes some sense when, in Oscar Isaac’s character’s words, all the weapons, gear, and ammo are “sourced through the local economy.”

But it’s really the characters and their decisions where things fall apart.  Warning: I’ll try to minimize it, but things get slightly spoilery from here on out.

First of all, none of the characters are all that fleshed out, as much as the writers halfheartedly try.  They don’t so much have dialog as they have speeches.  But that’s not the worst part.

Affleck’s character (no, I can’t honestly remember the names of any of the characters, either, which is another bad sign) goes from the reluctant, concerned one to the greedy loose cannon, as quickly as flipping a light switch.  Now, there’s a way that that could be made believable.  It’s entirely likely that once he crossed a certain moral threshold, he just said, “The hell with it.  All in.”  The problem is that we didn’t get to see that.  (The fact that Affleck has one facial expression the entire movie doesn’t help.)  There’s a lot that just happens in this movie, without any preparation, or even clear explanation.  One significant act, without which none of the caper could have gone down, happens offscreen without any mention whatsoever.  You’ve got to figure out that it actually happened from context, leaving you wondering if you missed something.  (You didn’t.  They skipped it.)

That’s not the only gap.  Things are mentioned without being shown.  “Let’s just use our day packs.”  You haven’t seen a day pack on any of them for the last hundred miles.  They make the approach to their target in a pouring-down monsoon, with cammie paint on their faces.  As soon as they make entry, however, they’re dry, and there’s not a trace of camouflage paint anywhere.  The whole movie is rife with these kind of jarring missteps.

While I’ve been mostly negative here, I should say it’s not a terrible movie.  It’s just not a good one.  It’s certainly not as good as I could have hoped it would be.  And the main reason is that the writers (and presumably the director) were just lazy.

Triple Frontier

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Works by Peter include: The American Praetorians Series Task Force Desperate (October 2012) - ebook , paperback and audiobook Hunting in the Shadows (June 2013) - ebook and paperback Alone and Unafraid (August 2014) - ebook and paperback The Devil You Don't Know (June 2015) - ebook and paperback Lex Talionis (June 2017) - ebook and paperback The Jed Horn Series A Silver Cross and a Winchester (October 2013) - ebook and paperback Nightmares (January 2015)- ebook and paperback The Walker on the Hills (December 2015) - ebook and paperback Older and Fouler Things (September 2017) - ebook and paperback The Brannigan's Blackhearts Series/Universe Kill Yuan (Spring 2016) - ebook and paperback Fury in the Gulf (November 2017) - ebook and paperback Burmese Crossfire (January 2018) - ebook and paperback Enemy Unidentified (March 2018) - ebook and paperback Frozen Conflict (May 2018) - ebook and paperback High Desert Vengeance (August 2018) - ebook and paperback Doctors of Death (December 2018) - ebook and paperback The Unity Wars Series (P.L. Nealen) The Fall of Valdek (July 2018) - ebook and paperback The Defense of Provenia (August 2018) - ebook and paperback The Alliance Rises (September 2018) - ebook and paperback Short Stories Rock Meet Hard Place (Part I) - Baen Books Blog Non-Fiction Operation Redwings: The Rescue Story Behind Lone Survivor (December 2013) - ebook only The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam (SOFREP) (November 2014) - ebook only

2 thoughts on “Triple Frontier

  • March 16, 2019 at 12:16 am

    I agree completely that this movie was rather disappointing. Probably could’ve worked too if the director had put any effort in but everything is just so flat.

    Also SPOILER but I laughed at how Charlie Hunnam’s character got shot, then somehow survived a helo crash and then had no issue moving around mountains and the wilderness. His intro speech into the movie also had to be one of the most heavy-handed things I’d ever seen.


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