Action film Triple Frontier fails to justify runtime

Courtesy of Netflix
Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck as “Pope” and “Redfly,” the film’s main protagonists.

Neil Runge | Staff Writer

03/21/19

Imagine a little over two hours of action-packed, beautifully shot yet dialogue heavy boredom. If that feels like a contradiction, it is. It’s an oxymoron titled, Triple Frontier.

Netflix’s newest movie, directed by J. C. Chandor, was released March 13. It is star-studded and has peaks of action, but ultimately drags like molasses through its runtime.

The film is about a group of five retired special forces operatives deciding that they’ve gone long enough without proper payment for the work they’ve done, including saving lives and risking their own.

Starring Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal and Garrett Hedlund as the five former operatives, they play them well: All of them bring deep performances of diverse personalities. There’d be no surprise if any one of them eventually win an award for this movie.

Their plan to get the money they feel they deserve starts going awry in about the first 40 minutes. The other 85 minutes deal with the consequences of stealing from a drug lord’s house in the middle of the jungle.

Even the action dragged. Every second of each scene just seemed to go by at a snail’s pace. The summaries and trailers released before the film gave it a more Ocean’s Eleven-but-with-soldiers feel. That’s what was expected going into it, but with the first quarter of the film, the gathering of allies and planning are all taken care of and the heist is done.

There just wasn’t enough time spent on learning about the characters. Less time should’ve been spent on shoveling stolen money into duffel bags and more on actual character development. They aimed for deep characters and just missed the target. Each of the retired men could’ve been shown as deep, complex people. They just weren’t. Their arcs were sidelined for easy-to-understand stereotypes and labels.

The lead actors and supporting cast made the movie enjoyable. They were this movie’s saving grace. The way they handled the half-made characters left me wishing for more backstory. Curiosity about their lives was what kept this viewer drawn in.

It would’ve been emotionally draining to get through this movie without the acting skills the incredible actors brought to the table.

It also helped that the movie was beautifully shot. Shooting on location in Hawaii and Columbia helped this film tremendously. Had it been shot against a green screen, the environmental struggles the characters go through would’ve felt fake. Watching them drag duffel bags of money through the jungle and over mountains built the world of the movie far more than anything digitally done could have.

Beautiful sweeping shots of forest scenery and great acting didn’t stop Triple Frontier from being a boring movie. It was weighed down by unnecessary drawn out scenes of the characters speaking to each other about random topics, scenes of speaking to villagers or arguments based on things that should’ve been common sense. All these things just added up to just an abundance of talking. Much of it could have and should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Chandor released a film that was stretched over a two hour and five minutes runtime. It would’ve been a more enjoyable story had it been kept to something more sweet and short for the action genre.

 

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