What critics had to say about Ben Affleck’s ‘Triple Frontier’

Here are reviews (good and bad) of the Cambridge native's new Netflix movie.

Ben Affleck in "Triple Frontier." –Melinda Sue Gordon / Courtesy of Netflix

In 2019, Ben Affleck’s film fortunes will be tied very closely to Netflix’s. He’s part of the lead ensemble for “The Last Thing He Wanted,” a political thriller directed by Dee Rees (“Mudbound”) and based on a Joan Didion novel that’s expected to arrive later this year. The Cambridge native is also the star of “Triple Frontier,” a South America-set action thriller that debuts on the streaming platform on Wednesday.

In the latter film, Affleck plays one of five former Special Forces operatives (the others are Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal) planning a heist in a remote section of South America. Things don’t go exactly to plan, and the group soon finds themselves fighting against time, their moral compasses, and occasionally each other in hopes of surviving.

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Thus far, critics have been generally positive about “Triple Frontier,” with the film earning a 69 percent freshness rating on critic aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this article’s publication. That said, a single number can’t adequately capture the range of critical response, and many of the reviews coded as “fresh” or “rotten” by the site have a bit more nuance.

To help you decide whether you should bump it to the top of your Netflix queue, here’s what some of the top film critics are saying, both good and bad, about “Triple Frontier.”

The Good

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times loved every aspect of the film, praising the cast, director/co-writer J.C. Chandor, and co-writer Mark Boal. 

“‘Triple Frontier’ is a tough, rain-soaked, blood-spattered, well-spun soldier-of-fortune heist thriller with uniformly strong performances from that outstanding cast and some expertly choreographed, hold-your-breath action sequences.”

 

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty compared “Triple Frontier” to “rollicking, red-meat military adventure” films from the ’60s and ’70s, and credited Chandor, Boal, and the cast with keeping things interesting throughout.

“Suffice it to say that Chandor, Boal, and their gruff band of he-men never let things slacken. There may be no honor among thieves, but Triple Frontier certainly makes watching them pretty entertaining.”

 

The So-So

The AV Club’s Mike D’Angelo referred to early portions of “Triple Frontier” as “so far, so meh,” but enjoyed the absurdity of the film’s second half.

Triple Frontier… becomes a fascinating sustained exercise in absurdist triage, as one mishap after another forces the men to decide whether they’re prepared to throw away obscene amounts of money in order to save their skins.”


Jake Coyle of the Associated Press wrote that “Triple Frontier” is “both more and less than what it seems,” noting that Chandor dabbles in capitalist allegories, while also criticizing the lack of character development. 

“‘Triple Frontier’ has the good sense to take a macho, ‘Expendables’-like set-up and turn it inward. It just doesn’t go far enough.”


The Ugly

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The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said that Chandor should have given the screenplay another go, as “attention to more character detailing would have been welcome.”

“Despite the heavy dose of action and numerous tense situations, this Netflix offering has trouble staying in high gear once it gets there and the characterizations remain one- dimensional — the men all speak exactly the same way.”

 

Salon’s Gary M. Kramer called the film’s action sequences “ploddingly dull,” and wrote that Chandor “doesn’t seem to have any sense of fun.”

“There is no witty banter or joking between the guys. They are all way too earnest and serious. ‘Triple Frontier’ is a slog—not just for the men hiking through the rough Andes terrain with bags of money, but for audiences as well.”

 

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