Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: Triple Frontier

Netflix's action flick is pretty good. It's also exactly what the streaming service should be providing.




Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon / Netflix
 

We do not quite know what the ideal Netflix-distributed movie should be, but “Triple Frontier” is pretty close — a highly watchable if not exactly fascinating action yarn. Its direction is sharp but not flashy; its performances are strong but not scene-stealing. It’ll pop up in your feed; you’ll watch it; you’ll enjoy it.

Directed by J.C. Chandor — previously of the Robert Redford solo effort “All is Lost” and the stylish, if muted, crime drama “A Most Violent Year” — “Triple Frontier” is a heist movie wrapped in a war movie’s clothing, an apt but never overwrought statement on the gradients between military and criminal.

Santiago Garcia (Oscar Isaac) is the last of his military buddies still regularly getting his hands dirty. When an operation in Colombia — and a desperate informant (Adria Arjona) — leads to the hideout of a notorious drug lord, he reaches out to his crew (Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal) back in the Northern Hemisphere.

No one’s doing well, in spite of their wartime heroics; one is a low-level MMA fighter, another is a realtor. So the promise of a payday in exchange for eliminating a genuine bad guy draws the company to South America, where they’re met with a caveat: Their mission is unsupported by any government and is thus little more than a criminal enterprise. (Albeit a well-intentioned one.)

In practice, that makes “Triple Frontier” a somewhat typical series of unfortunate events; the plan goes slightly awry then very awry and things proceed from there. But what’s fascinating about the way it develops is how gradually and gently it forces its chief questions — which are big concepts of right and wrong, risk and reward, morality and utility — to the fore. Its subject matter creeps up, step by step, until you can’t help but consider it.

That success is probably attributable to a strong script by Chandor and “Hurt Locker” writer Mark Boal. It’s not without flaw; there are few twists that “Triple Frontier” takes that won’t be obvious 15 or 20 minutes in advance, and there’s an over-reliance on both dramatic gazes and obvious music beds. (Can we declare a moratorium on “Run Through the Jungle,” please?)

It’s an easily watchable picture, though, particularly with Isaac — who has ascended from quite-good to excellent in recent years — in the lead. Netflix: More of this, please.

My Rating: 7/10
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

How to Celebrate the Moon Landing Anniversary in Pittsburgh

To celebrate Apollo 11’s golden anniversary, several local events are set to take place, from film screenings to new exhibits and more.

5 Pittsburgh Vintage Homes Stores You'll Want to Explore

PM Editoral Intern Ellie Pesetsky shares some of her favorite up-cycled furniture and home decor stores in and around Pittsburgh.

Eleven Couples to be Married after Love at First Bite

Wedding bells will be chiming for multiple couples this weekend … and it’s taking place at Primanti Bros. in the Strip District.

Pop Culture Pop Up Bars Are Here to Stay

Nintendo-themed Level Up is in Market Square for another week, but if you miss it, you can catch the Pokémon-themed bar coming this fall.

How Scary is the New Steel Curtain Coaster at Kennywood?

The ride claims records for the world’s tallest looping coaster and tallest inversion; it also has more inversions than any coaster in North America. We rode it this morning. Here's what we have to say.

The 400-Word Review: Point Blank

Netflix's action thriller is forgettable, but serves well as a quick throwback.

Pittsburgh Marks the First Stop of the New Whiskey Rebellion Trail

Think the story of American whiskey begins in Kentucky? Think again.

Pirates’ Possibilities Include Contention in Surprising Season’s Second Half

It hasn’t gone according to the original script, but the Pirates have found a way to stay relevant — and may yet be capable of finishing what they started.

The 400-Word Review: Stuber

There are laughs in the new buddy comedy, but they're dragged down by bad decisions.

Cornbread, A New Soul Food Restaurant, Opens in an Unexpected Location

Adenah Bayoh and Elzadie “Zadie” Smith bring their fast-casual concept to the West Mifflin Walmart.

The Park After Dark

Kennywood’s “Night Rider” tickets may be the best bet for many visitors.

The Best Tips for Finding a Wedding Photographer

There’s no need to stress about finding the best photographer thanks to these helpful tips from local professionals.

Pittsburgh Bartenders Bring the Garden to the Glass

Bartenders are using centrifugal force, tinctures and more to amplify and preserve the season's harvest.

Oakmont Glassware Company Looking to Join the Big Time

Amanda Lee began painting glasses in her basement to help pay for her college education. Today, she ships her products across the globe from a new, shabby-chic warehouse and gift shop.

Watch: New, Washington County-Shot Comedy Series Hicksters

The series, created by and starring Pittsburgh native and "Man of Steel" actress Christina Wren, premiered in June at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.