TRIPLE FRONTIER (2019, J.C. Chandor)
A red-meat Dad movie engineered for the algorithm that puts this on the front Netflix page for fans of NARCOS and THE HURT LOCKER. Come for the U.S. Special Forces tactical ops, with rifles, headshots, jeeps in mud, foot-chases through Peruvian barrios, and duffel bags full of cash, and stay for the anti-political procedural that barely pays lip service to forgotten former soldiers (the tight shot of a leaky faucet in an un-sold condo in the foreground, with blurry Ben Affleck’s subdued and desperate realtor in the background, says all you need to know) and instead delivers a two-quadrant heist thriller with the chops of John Rambo.
Boal and Chandor’s script dots every i and crosses every t, even going so far as to introduce conflicts that amount to nothing (Affleck’s suspicions of Isaac’s informant), while surprising us with conflicts we didn’t know were coming (why it smells like paint, a ridge too high for mules, etc.). By the time it gets to the chopper ride through the Andes, it has built so much tension that we’re privy to a suspense sequence for the ages — so heart-pounding you almost won’t notice the gorgeous shot of the sunlight bathing our heroes at their most uncertain moment. The lack of real subtext, and the hesitation at making a more profound point to this madness (a charge some levied at Boal’s ZERO DARK THIRTY script as well), keep this 2-hour punch from landing in the stomach, but a fine anchoring performance from Oscar Isaac and intelligently staged combat by Chandor (a chameleon whose MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST, and A MOST VIOLENT YEAR all exercise vastly different muscles) make it well worth your while regardless. Just let’s please never speak about Charlie Hunnam’s attempt at an American accent ever again. It must be dropped into a chasm and buried with snow.