By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “Triple Frontier” (Netflix); Director: J.C. Chandor; Cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal.
So, boys, it’s time for some high-octane, high voltage action. You know, the kind of adventure stories that Alistair MacLean wrote? They are back in vogue, and why not? When we have a bunch of highly charismatic superstars swooping down on some highly panoramic terrain. All for a cause.
The plot in this I-me-myself film is wafer-thin, almost anorexic. The morals are that of an alley-cat binging on full-cream milk. In true high-adventure style, we have Oscar Isaac collecting together some really troubled soldier friends, all with a troubled past (so forgive them, Oh Lord) for a heist that would make them millionaires many times over.
Isaac is a magnetic actor and I recently saw him playing a bereaved husband in the grossly underrated “Life Itself”. He easily steals the show from the other superstars in this Netflix show-off vehicle where Ben Affleck takes a backseat and drops out of the plot midway. Which is all for the best.
This is one of the worst films Affleck has done in recent times, with his character suffering from a grossly underwritten arc and no sense of anchored loyalty or commitment beyond the one staring at his nose.
The logic for men of honour turning so dishonourable is simple. Enough for the country. How about doing something for ourselves? From this highly dubious motive for machismo, the rapid-fire narration sprints to the most ridiculous situations and dialogues until we reach a point when they stare at one another searching for a moral compass for their avarice.
At one point, one of the heroes wonders how many people they have killed so far. And believe it or not, his colleague has kept count! This is a film that throws around violent statistics and ill-gotten money with infuriating impunity.
One of the heroes throws a fat wad of notes to a young rustic boy soldiering at an age when he should be partying.
“Take this, and get out before it is too late,” our hero warns the boy.
I wish someone made me the same offer. I’d be out of this preposterous action drama in a jiffy.
“Triple Frontier” has some brilliant action scenes shot in locations that scream a cinematic seductiveness. The window dressing cannot hide the basic repugnance of a plot that tells us greed is a great incentive for adrenaline. And that killing people for money is a good way to harness hormonal anxiety.
If you want to spend two hours wondering what some of American cinema’s biggest and most appealing stars are doing running around a terrain that has no place for them, then go right ahead. If, however, the thought of Affleck playing a wreck of a soldier who needs money for his daughter’s education sounds too corny for comfort, then find a film that doesn’t glorify greed and violence.