Triple Frontier: Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Triple Frontier is the result of the union of two talents on relatively opposite sides: the tandem formed by Kathryn Bigelow (original director of the film and an essential part in its initial development) and Mark Boal (screenwriter) on the one hand, and its last director , J.C. Chandor, on the other. From the first he takes her sobriety and from the second his introspection. A group of disenchanted soldiers decide that it is enough to bleed for the country for four dollars and decide to rob a powerful drug trafficker in his remote mansion, hidden in the aforementioned line that separates Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The premise and development of the film are simpler, impossible: the robbery. Its planning, its execution, and the subsequent escape.
Triple Frontier Plot
It’s almost a step-by-step reconstruction of an event, and it’s a purely Bigelow/Boal approach, like the one they already exhibited at Zero Dark Thirty or Detroit. They provide the body of the film. Chandor (and a sensational, but sensational Ben Affleck) gives him his heart: the loss of honor, the study of a group of soldiers who begin to act without code and without rules, or as they say metaphorically, “without the heat of the flag ”, for no other reason than personal enrichment, and the consequences of the violence that begins to slip out of their hands.
It is a tension between two ways of seeing a story that I notice everywhere, and that begins with fits and starts and then settles in the second half of the film, much more adventurous, much more “classic” and much more meditative. More Chandor, in short, responsible for one of the most outstanding films of this type in recent years of American cinema, When all is lost. At first, I had a bit of a hard time understanding this group of people because the film doesn’t provide much explanation (or better yet, doesn’t teach it) for their boredom. The “brain” of the mission, Santiago Garcia (Oscar Isaac), says he’s had enough, as do the two stalwarts of the operation, the Miller brothers, William and Ben (Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund). Francisco Morales (Pedro Pascal), the pilot, is accused of transporting drugs, and he needs the money.
Triple Frontier and Ben Affleck
But the group’s glue, Captain Tom Davis (Ben Affleck), harbors a more complicated motive: he needs it; he needs the dough and he needs to come back, and he hates himself because he needs it. Because he is a violent man, weary of civil life. It is a review of the great character of Bigelow and Boal, William James, the protagonist of En Tierra Hostil, with a special nuance. Davis, the most experienced of the group, the most “tired” of all, knows the consequences of the path they are going to take. It is an illegitimate mission. And this illegitimacy contaminates all good purposes, and will make suffer those who least deserve it. But he needs it. Chandor reserves the second hour of the film to clarify reasons and reflections for me and that is more than enough.
I have to dedicate a couple of paragraphs to Affleck. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of him is that scene from Good Will Hunting in which he reproaches Matt Damon, his best friend, for his inability to understand that he has in his hands “a winning ticket without the cojones to collect”. He is an actor who has always given me the feeling of riding the wave that Damon started. “Damon is a true superstar,” I think, “and Affleck got to where he got by doing the drag.” But for every Gigli, for every Daredevil, for every Pearl Harbor, there’s a Hollywoodland, there’s a Lost, there’s a To the Wonder, there’s a — this one is wonderful — Edge of Truth. And, up to a certain point and if the Gods had allowed it, there is a Batman. In short, there is always a film in which Affleck gives a far-reaching performance, building a character from his failures as a human being, from the cracking of his star figure, from the eternal guilt of the impostor that he seems detach.
In Triple Frontier you can see the contained rage from the first scenes, in which he even seems to struggle with his lines. When Davis blurts out a shaky “I love you” to his daughter with a forced smile, we see a man for whom affection is not the first option and he knows it and needs to do something about it. I don’t know if Affleck is aware of the effect of seeing a hunk of that size and with such a career so openly exhibit so much self-doubt, but there’s nothing quite like it right now in this caliber of Hollywood stardom. Movie stars shouldn’t behave like this. So vulnerable. It is counterintuitive. And that’s why it’s so effective: Isaac, Hunnam, Hedlund and Pascal are at a good level, but limited somewhat by the constraints that Boal imposes on them. But Affleck is Chandor pure and simple. And it is impressive to witness how he is up to it.
Almost as surprising as Chandor, a piece of director whose idea of a film germinates slowly. Triple Frontier it begins as a standard urban show of gunshots and tough guys, but the interest he shows in the first action sequence in both the geography and the people who inhabit it — pristine, steady steadicam and plenty of reference shots — begins to set the film apart. from more stark companions, such as the aforementioned Zero Dark Thirty or more stoic, such as Sicario, to become an adventure where the extraordinary natural settings take on a predominant role, as already happened in his film with Redford. Best of all, it does so without giving the impression that it needs to radically change Boal’s initial proposal. She doesn’t magically become chatty, nor does she spend ten minute sequences exploring her characters. She demonstrates it in looks, pauses and silences, providing a cohesive film, without any trace of “DIRECTOR’S ATTACK”.
Admirable for Affleck, admirable for Chandor’s sangfroid, admirable for his sense of greatness. In its jungles and mountains walk men who “once were warriors”, as Hunnam recalls — another point for him: James Gray and The Lost City of Z have given him a leap in quality that now leads him to interpret without apparent effort and that’s gold for a guy who needs to differentiate himself in any way he can in this sea of blonde people with blue eyes that Hollywood has been cultivating with particular emphasis for some time now –, in a message that takes time to arrive, but it arrives: at the moment in which that you betray your principles by pulling the trigger, the world becomes too big a place.