Triple Frontier

Year: 2019
Production Co: Atlas Entertainment
Director: J C Chandor
Writer: Mark Boal/J C Chandor
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund

There are some well-done turns in the plot that keep this from being a run of the mill gruff-soldiers-mission thriller like a million others, but they're not really enough to save it from being more than a perfectly competent gruff-soldiers-mission thriller.

A group of former special forces men facing hard times in their own way get wind of an under-the-table gig that might set them up for life. Mexican cop Garcia (Oscar Isaac) has been on the trail of a drug lord for years, and when he figures out not only where the guy's jungle compound hideaway is but that he stashes his fortune somewhere on the property, he has to convince his former team-mates to join him.

It's what they used to do for their country, after all, and nobody's going to miss a coke runner sitting on a pile of filthy lucre. All they have to do is make it into the country, dispatch the guy and his guards, lift the cash and fly home.

It takes some convincing for leader Davis (Ben Affleck), the Miller brothers (Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund) and pilot Morales (Pedro Pascal), but before you can say 'veterans on benefits' they're trudging through the rainy jungle to infiltrate the bad guy's compound.

In the hands of screenwriter Mark Boal and director (and co-writer) J C Chandor, the scenes of them planning and executing the sting look like they couldn't be any more authentic or exciting, and before long the boys are discovering money – hundreds of millions, much more than they counted on – buried in the very walls.

The movie's barely halfway over before the job is done and they're on their way, leaving you wondering what else can possibly happen. But the story from then on is about them trying to get dozens of heavy bags of cash out of the country in a light plane, a purloined helicopter and across desolate mountain ranges.

Think of the plot hole of how Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) got out of the Middle Eastern prison and back to Gotham City so apparently easily in The Dark Knight Rises – this is the flipside of that story, of how hard transport is even when you're a highly skilled special forces soldier.

The shocking deaths of major characters, the way greed can unravel trust and friendship and several other elements keep you very much on your toes and it could have told a much more conventional story even while being a perfectly competent modern gritty military action thriller.

But if there's any flaw, it's that it can't really escape the guidelines of a modern gritty military action thriller, no matter how talented Boal and Chandor are (and they are).

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