“TRIPLE FRONTIER” ESCAPIST HEIST FARE FUN; TCM UPDATE
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“TRIPLE FRONTIER” ON NETFLIX
A heist caper with former members of Special Forces pulling off a big score is not a fresh, novel concept but Netflix’s “Triple Frontier,” graced with an excellent cast, is a highly watchable diversion. The putative leader of old military buddies is Oscar Isaac’s Santiago “Pope” Garcia, who may no longer be wearing an Army uniform but can’t stay away from the action in his function as a mercenary working with police in Colombia tracking down drug lords. In this capacity, and working with informant Yovanna (Adria Arjona), Santiago has become aware of notorious drug lord Gabriel Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos), a vicious killer holed up in a safe house stashed with untold millions of dollars. Returning to the states to catch up with his old war buddies, Santiago hatches a scheme to stage a heist of Lorea’s hideaway in the remote jungle area of Columbia, knowing his informant will provide useful logistical information.
Ben Affleck’s Tom “Redfly” Davis is the first one Santiago approaches. Though initially skeptical and reluctant to get involved, the recently divorced Tom, living in the garage of his own house, is barely getting by selling condos and he could use the money for his family. William “Ironhead” Miller (Charlie Hunnam) spends time giving motivational talks to military recruits. Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund) scrapes by as a cage fighter. Francisco “Catfish” Morales (Pedro Pascal), a chopper pilot, has lost his license but not his skill set.
Santiago’s recruiting effort for the heist results in a certain amount of trepidation from his pals until all objections can be quelled. Moral dilemmas will surface once again when the going gets dirty and tough. The stakes are fairly well defined by Tom when he tells the group that they can’t go back to a normal life after the heist because “what we are about to do is criminal” and “we don’t have the flag on our shoulders.” While Santiago is the so-called mastermind behind the idea of stealing from a drug lord, the conflicted Tom proves to be the important linchpin to the operation as he demonstrates his talent for tactical planning. After years of dedicated service to their country, the five buddies prove to be motivated by the desire to make up for lost opportunities to generate financial rewards that would normally come from hard work and commitment.
To some degree or other, they all suffer not only from returning to civilian life but from economic disparity relative to those who never donned the uniform and served in treacherous battles. Setting out on a rogue mission in the South American jungle, the group is well aware they are headed to a war zone where no government is going to come to their rescue. The stakes are exceedingly high and there is no margin for error. The heist planning is meticulous, and the help of Yovanna to provide insider knowledge of the compound is key, and yet her nervous behavior throughout should itself cause some doubts about the success of a mission fraught with peril.
With a smart game plan, the heist is pulled off as the crew uncovers the horde of seemingly endless bundles of cash hidden throughout the safe house. The getaway involves a shootout with Lorea’s thugs while one member suffers a bullet wound. The hard part is a trek through dangerous lands as the group makes its way to another country for an escape by boat. Along the way the five buddies are forced to make difficult choices, putting everyone on edge and tempers often flaring. Moral dilemmas arise when their getaway helicopter runs into trouble as it loses altitude due to the excess weight of its cargo. Crash landing on remote farmland results in unpleasant encounters with the villagers. This is just the beginning of things going wrong after the tense heist had been executed according to mostly to plan. Jeopardy for the team keeps mounting the closer they get to their escape destination.
“Triple Frontier” is great escapist fare and an engaging thriller. Putting the perils of the escape aside, the heist perpetrated by ex-soldiers is reminiscent of “Ocean’s 11” (the Sinatra version), only set in the jungle.
2019 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL UPDATE
The TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood from April 11th to the 14th for four days of a wide range of programming themes, including the central theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies.”Fitting into the main theme is the screening of the iconic “Gone With the Wind,” the torrid romance between Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh during the onset and aftermath of the Civil War. Stanley Donen’s “Indiscreet” stars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in a romantic comedy about a hapless-in-love actress who falls for a handsome banker hiding a big secret about his marriage. Among other milestones, the Festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” This column will soon preview more details on the highlights of the festival’s plans still being formulated.