Stop me if you’ve heard this already.
Batman, Poe Dameron, and King Arthur walk into a bar. They team-up to stop a vile drug lord and rob him along the way. Rather dynamic, right? Top flight action stars. Type-A leaders with machismo laced on each fiber of beard scruff. Good avenging evil and making a little loot on the side.
Why, then, does Triple Frontier fail to crank this amp up to eleven?
Triple Frontier screams of a big, theatrical film and has a high-caliber cast along as its proof. Writing, directing, and producing teams are all of Academy Award-pedigree. Yet the Netflix release is a standard plod through the jungle with CCR and Metallica on the accompanying soundtrack. The story is good, the characters lively, but the lack of escalated conflict drops the potential of this one down to the mundane.
The tale, half military covert ops, half heist flick, fits into writer/director JC Chandor’s ongoing cinematic themes of dealing with the environment of a bad decision. Robert Redford did it in his old man and the sea film All Is Lost. Oscar Isaac tried to take on mobbed-up oil companies in A Most Violent Year. Looking for more, he’s back with Chandor, but this time as a tired CIA agent. He wants the bad guys unequivocally stopped. He wants success for the grunts on his team who are clearly not successful back home in the real world. And he has a plan. But plans in heist flicks never go right. What’s the point? There is excitement in that turmoil. There is entertainment in that edge. Triple Frontier maintains a steady pace that certainly makes for good visuals, but never raises the blood pressure. The turmoil never boils over; the edge is a wide avenue.
An entertaining, steady offering from Netflix, Triple Frontier provides a real-life glimpse into real-life problems. Sometimes, though, you need slam-bang action from a superhero. The sleek escape from a starship pilot. The pulse of this chase is missing that adrenaline shot. And the bar has already made its last call.