Never question Netflix’s moviemaking ability ever again. After winning three Oscars for Roma in February, the streamer released Triple Frontier, a movie that has practically nothing in common with Roma but is wildly enjoyable nonetheless. It’s Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund tactically robbing a Brazilian drug lord—what more could you ask for? After rushing home from work—and maybe even skipping work—to watch Triple Frontier, some Ringer staffers divulged their thoughts.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Triple Frontier?
Amanda Dobbins: I’VE NEVER MISSED A HARD OUT, AND I’VE NEVER MET A HEIST MOVIE I DIDN’T ENJOY.
Kate Halliwell: Never before has a Netflix film so perfectly met my expectations, from the slightly-too-tight henleys to Ben Affleck’s dad bod to the many, many bro hugs.
Chris Ryan: The algorithm works.
Amelia Wedemeyer: I came for the cast, but stayed for the riveting action scenes!
Megan Schuster: I cannot possibly fit all my thoughts into 280 characters, so I’ll just stick with this:
proud to announce I’m officially launching Team Pedro Pascal Should’ve Had Oscar Isaac’s Role— Megan Schuster (@megschuster) March 14, 2019
Alyssa Bereznak: A Ben Affleck biopic dressed in Sicario’s clothing.
Shea Serrano: This was one of those movies that was more fun to think about than to watch.
Andrew Gruttadaro: I would watch these five guys do anything for two hours.
Richie Bozek: Can someone direct me to the workout plan that allows Charlie Hunnam’s character to survive a helicopter crash and a week in South American jungles and mountains while also nursing an open gunshot wound?
Miles Surrey: “This is not what I signed up for.” —Pedro Pascal, but also me when the heist happens within the first hour of Triple Frontier.
2. What was the best moment of the film?
Schuster: Watching Garrett Hedlund get punched in the face was oddly satisfying, in a way I’m not sure I can fully explain.
Gruttadaro: When Oscar Isaac scolded Garrett Hedlund for laughing about a donkey death.
Bozek: Just after Benny and the other fighter touch gloves, Benny gets absolutely clocked by a hefty right hook—and then there’s a hard cut. What the hell was that? I was buckled in for this fight scene after a solid five-minute buildup. Did Benny really lose that fight in approximately half a second? That was hilarious.
Dobbins: TFW the Metallica hits, and/or TFW when a donkey falls over the side of a cliff and the hundred-dollar bills waft poignantly in the air. (This is not an endorsement of animal cruelty.)
Bereznak: Ben Affleck trying and failing to sell a shitty condo. You could at least smile, brah!
Surrey: Not to be that guy, but the sweeping shots of the jungle, the favelas, and the South American mountain ranges were breathtaking to behold. J.C. Chandor also directed All Is Lost—a.k.a. the Mother Nature Tries to Kill Robert Redford at Sea movie—and if this feature-filmmaking thing doesn’t work out for him, he could always find work on Planet Earth III.
Wedemeyer: I think what made the movie work as a whole was the cast’s chemistry. ... And, sure, it didn’t hurt that everyone in this film could get it whenever and wherever, despite foraging through several different South American ecosystems for a good week.
Serrano: Charlie Hunnam ending a talk in front of a bunch of other soldiers about the time he nearly choked a guy to death in the cereal aisle of a grocery store by saying, “That’s the price of being a warrior,” and then Metallica coming on.
Halliwell: I let out a comically loud gasp exactly two times—first when Ben Affleck bit the dust, and second when Garrett Hedlund started singing, à la Country Strong, while trudging through the snow.
The moment when it literally dawns on Santiago’s crew that the laws of physics are undefeated, and all their ingenuity, grit, determination, and fraternal loyalty to one another are no match for pulling x weight over y height. What an Icarus moment. It’s a wonderful inflection point, when the film switches from heist movie to survival story.
Also, while we’re here, when Affleck goes on tilt in Gabriel Martin Lorea’s compound and everything begins to unravel.
3. What was your least favorite part of the movie?
Serrano: All of the parts where people were not shooting or getting shot at.
Gruttadaro: Ben Affleck’s khakis.
Schuster: Charlie Hunnam’s fluctuating accent. I KNOW, I’m as surprised as you are. I am a noted Hunnam stan and was very much expecting to come away from this calling him the MVP. But Charlie, please: Stop going to the bargain-bin dialect coach.
Wedemeyer: WHEN AFFLECK DIES!!! Yes, he got a little greedy, but the guy just wanted to pay his child support and get his daughters into a good college. You see, this is the kind of stuff people resort to when Lori Loughlin’s child steals an admissions spot.
Halliwell: I’m largely anti-Affleck, but even I could have done without all those closeups of his post head-shot body.
Dobbins: The standoff with the villagers was upsetting.
Ryan: I could have done with about 85 percent less “cold camping.” There’s going to be an inevitable, um, comedown after you stage a helicopter crash–villager confrontation, but the next 20 minutes of EXT: RAINING IN THE JUNGLE and EXT: COLD ON THE MOUNTAIN get a little tedious. Just because something feels true doesn’t make it particularly entertaining.
Bereznak: When that poor $2 million mule fell off the cliff, along with a significant portion of their rapidly shrinking, morally corrupt fortune. In general, the slow bloodletting of the cash through the hilltops inspired the same heavy anxiety I feel when I check my bank account balance between paychecks.
Surrey: When the mule fell off the edge of the mountain range. I don’t like animal deaths, and I met a mule once—her name was Sophia, and she was like a giant dog.
Bozek: That donkey didn’t ask to be a part of this, man. RIP.
4. Who is the movie’s MVP?
Schuster: FLEETWOOD MAC, BABY!
Dobbins: Hot-dad outdoor gear.
Halliwell: Whoever decided to cast Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund as hot, violent brothers—the most obvious slam dunk in cinema history.
Serrano: Oscar Isaac, of course.
Bereznak: Pedro Pascal is definitely the smartest, most capable person in the bunch, and I appreciate him for supporting his buddies’ unreasonable decisions, even as those decisions continue to endanger the group, and force him to kill innocent people. I’m not saying it’s right, but he’s clearly a great friend.
Ryan: I’m really torn here. Affleck is the most vulnerable, playing up his paunchiness and allowing himself to essentially be the villain of the piece. Hunnam may be the soul of the movie. But I don’t think it works without Pascal, who lands the movie’s few moments of humor way better than he does helicopters.
Gruttadaro: I think I wanna say Affleck? No one captures the sadness of these dudes’ post-service lives better than him (and his khakis), his death hits you like a ton of bricks, and that pre-heist speech? Whew. One of the best pre-heist speeches in recent history. “You cannot go back to your normal life after tonight.” Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!
Wedemeyer: I was going to say Ben Affleck out of my undying loyalty to him, but I’d be lying to myself and everyone else if I didn’t say that it’s a tie between the stylist/costume designer and the makeup/grooming person. I was a big fan of the backward hats, button-downs, and all-purpose henleys—and don’t get me started on those beards. WHEW!
Bozek: This story doesn’t happen without Yovanna. Not only that, but she gets to walk away from this film to leave for Australia with duffle bags full of cash after:
- Taking a legible video on a flip phone, which, not an easy thing to do at all
- Parking a car in a driveway
- Getting probably about 15 minutes of screen time
Not to mention she ended up with the most cash out of anyone. Talk about efficiency. Unanimous MVP.
Surrey: The one guard at the cartel’s jungle fortress who didn’t notice his two colleagues were getting taken out because he was too focused watching soccer on a huge-ass TV screen.
You don’t always get to see yourself represented on film.
5. Tag yourself as a member of the group.
Dobbins: I am Ironhead (Charlie Hunnam), because I would absolutely attack someone in a Publix for not moving their shopping cart.
Ryan: Lol, I am Catfish.
Gruttadaro: I think I’m Pope (Oscar Isaac), because I too underestimate the scope of projects, have bad knees, and would get mad at my friend for laughing about a donkey’s death.
Halliwell: I’m Pedro Pascal in the first half hour—reluctant and slightly annoyed, but ultimately susceptible to peer pressure.
Bereznak: In my friend group, I’m Pedro Pascal. I send everyone in the group text an Excel spreadsheet to organize our upcoming friends trip, watch as my plans get completely trampled, but go along for the ride anyway because I love everyone too much to straight-up quit.
At work I’m Oscar Isaac, because I have an overinflated sense of confidence in impossible, complicated missions (such as writing 6,000-word features), and frequently rope my editor into aforementioned missions without truly warning her what she’s getting into. (Hi, Amanda. <3)
Serrano: I did not recognize myself in any of the guys in the group. If I can drill it down to one single trait, it’d probably be Oscar Isaac’s habit of consistently fucking things up.
Schuster: I would love to say Oscar Isaac, rogue operative with the skills and cunning to steal $250 million; or Pedro Pascal, complete with flying ability and a cocaine bust on my record. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m definitely the overprepared nerd who would be the only one to die on the mission.
Wedemeyer: Ben Affleck—I, too, am bloated, money conscious, and easily swayed into doing dumb stuff by old friends.
Surrey: Let’s be honest: All of us will want to say we’re one of Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, or Pedro Pascal. But we’re really washed Ben Affleck in a sad polo and dad khakis dropping off his daughter for school.
6. What was your reaction to the fact that Ben Affleck died first?
Serrano: As soon as none of the five guys died early in the house, I said, “Oh, then Ben Affleck is definitely going to be the first one to die.”
Bereznak: Seemed about right given the fact that Ben Affleck (1) had the most to lose, (2) was clearly out of practice/shape, and (3) was carrying around a toxic combination of depression and hubris.
Dobbins: Ohhh, I should’ve known. (Famous people only take the non-ringleader role when they’re allowed to die!)
How will the California real estate market cope?
Halliwell: The rest of the cast had already been dragging Ben’s dead weight around for the first half of the movie, so not much changed if you ask me.
Gruttadaro: Unexpectedly, it made me unbelievably sad. I thought about all those undrank PBRs in that fridge, and then I thought how his kids would never grow to respect him. And then Garrett Hedlund started crying. It all became too much.
Surrey: I loved the surprise—I’d have placed the betting odds on Hedlund or Pascal. Affleck’s character was also the most unhinged member of the group, eschewing his own comprehensive heist plan so they could grab even more cash; he even considered killing Pope’s informant. If he didn’t get killed, I would have been worried that he’d have done anything to get that money across enemy lines. You know, for the college fund.
Schuster: Shock! Awe! Disbelief!
But then quickly after, this became the most “I have some notes” death I’ve seen on screen since Rickon Stark refused to zag even once during “The Battle of the Bastards.” My man, you heard the footsteps and rock slides behind you; you even turned around, stared your eventual killer in the eyes, and couldn’t get your gun up fast enough? I get that you may be a little rusty, but letting a teen get the drop on you is a tough way to go.
Wedemeyer: Kate Halliwell can attest to this—I gasped, collected myself, and walked out of the office, and returned only after I had taken some deep breaths and contemplated the cruelty of this film. For anyone walking past me, I’m sure I looked not unlike the infamous Ben Affleck on a beach photograph that was taken during the filming of this movie.
7. How has seeing Triple Frontier changed the way you feel about the Ben Affleck back tattoo photo?
Bereznak: It has only deepened its mythos.
Gruttadaro: The peace he seems to have in that photo makes way more sense to me now.
Dobbins: I was CONVINCED they needed to get to the beach so they could all frolic around together and show off Ben Affleck’s back tattoo. I’ll be honest: That that didn’t happen was a disappointment.
Bozek: Depends. Did he get a tattoo of a flying red dragon on his back before or after he knew his character in this movie was named “Redfly”?
Wedemeyer: No, because I’m a Ben Affleck fan and I try to support him. If he wants to get a big-ass back tattoo of a phoenix, so be it—it’s his body!
Schuster: I definitely understand the general feeling of contemplative anguish that Ben’s beach photos seemed to show—after all, his character is definitely the most angsty of the group. But since we don’t get to see the tattoo in this movie (an obvious oversight), my feelings remain largely unchanged.
Ryan: I can’t tell whether this is one of Affleck’s best performances or one of the saddest performances from a major movie star or both. This movie was obviously made during a tumultuous moment in Affleck’s life, though by many accounts he’s had plenty of moments like that, and I can’t recall him ever being this vulnerable and, at times, unlikable. Not since … Mallrats? And yet you can still see why these guys are all obsessed with him and need his character on the mission.
Surrey: I believe it’s now canon that Tom “Redfly” Davis has a giant phoenix tattoo on his back.
Halliwell: His back tattoo in this movie is like the wind—I can’t see it, but I can feel it. Just knowing it’s there added so much to my viewing experience.
Serrano: It didn’t change anything. I still think it was a wonderful idea.
8. In your opinion, what are the three best Netflix movies, and does Triple Frontier make the cut?
Dobbins: Roma, Okja, and Set It Up, so: no. But I had fun.
Ryan: Objectively, the three “best” Netflix movies are Roma, Okja, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but the most entertaining Netflix movies are Set It Up, the part in Outlaw King with the swans, and Triple Frontier.
Serrano: The three best Netflix movies are Set It Up, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Roma. Triple Frontier does not make the cut, which is surprising because the phrase “This movie is about Charlie Hunnam and Oscar Isaac robbing a drug dealer in South America” is the same phrase I say to myself over and over again whenever I’m trying to turn myself on.
2. The Night Comes for Us
I enjoyed the hell of out of Triple Frontier, but it doesn’t make the cut.
Halliwell: My top three are Roma, Okja, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Triple Frontier makes my top 10, though!
Wedemyer: I’m more of a Netflix original series person, so I haven’t seen that many Netflix movies, but my top three are as follows:
1. Triple Frontier
3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Yes, I know this list makes no sense.
1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
3. Set It Up
Sorry but Triple Frontier doesn’t even come close to the top five! Better than Bird Box though.
Gruttadaro: I have to go Google “list of Netflix movies” (great job, Netflix!), but this may crack my top three, behind Set It Up and Roma. I’m still surprised I liked it so much, and delighted that Amanda Dobbins made me watch it.
9. Using a screengrab from the film, make a meme.
TRIPLE FRONTIER had its flaws but wow, what a powerful ending pic.twitter.com/0eDKs5tP14— alyssa bereznak (@alyssabereznak) March 14, 2019
Schuster: My bank account when Netflix announces Triple Frontier 2:
Ryan: Me, when I feel bad about giving a harsh edit:
The Guys She Told You Not to Worry About: