Triple Frontier: 5 Facts About J.C. Chandor’s Dangerous Heist Movie

When it comes to making compelling dramas and effortlessly drawing A-listers to deliver stellar performances, J.C. Chandor is never far away. In his latest outing, the talented director served yet another gritty, suspenseful, and exciting drama in the Netflix action-thriller Triple Frontier. Chandor was nominated for an Oscar for his directorial masterpiece in the 2014 film, A Most Violent Year. His other works include Margin Call (2011) and All is Lost (2013).

Triple Frontier is a drama that cleverly intersects post-military experience and heist. The film follows five former special-ops soldiers, each down on their lucks in various ways, on a quest gone awry. The veterans chose to resolve their financial situations by pulling off a heist against a notorious Colombian drug lord. Amidst the test of loyalties, they unleashed a chain of unintended consequences.

The film premiered on 3rd March 2019, in New York City and was released by Netflix in select theatres on March 6, 2019. It was released for worldwide streaming seven days later, on March 13, 2019. It was viewed by over 52 million viewers on the streaming giant service within its first month of release and received mostly positive reviews from critics. Here are 5 facts to know about J.C. Chandor’s dangerous heist movie.

Triple Frontier: 5 Facts About J.C. Chandor’s Dangerous Heist Movie

1. The Film has Taken more than a Decade to Make it to the Screen

Principle production for the film commenced on 26th of March 2018 in Oahu, Hawaii, and by March the following year, the film was set to hit cinemas. However, the journey of the film we now know as Triple Frontier to the screen wasn’t that easy and straight.

The idea for the movie was conceived by director Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal in the mid-2000s while they were working on the set of the war drama film, The Hurt Locker (2008). They wanted to make a large-scale, big-budget action thriller, one that will be set in the crime-ridden border region linking Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil named la triple frontera. The film was originally titled Sleeping Dogs but had to sit on the shelf awhile while development was ongoing for the 2008 project.

Triple Frontier began to take fruition in 2010 and was supposed to be the duo’s next film. It was to be directed by Bigelow from a screenplay by Mark Boal while shooting was set to start in early 2011. The project faced a major obstacle from the onset which was getting the casting right. Production was also delayed and Bigelow left to focus on her film about a real-life army private, Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his base in Afghanistan only to be captured by enemy forces, thus leaving space for Chandor to helm the film for Paramount Pictures. He was officially signed in September 2015.

Paramount Pictures dropped the project in April 2017, a month before shooting was to commence. However, Netflix flew in like a phoenix and saved the movie from rotting in development hell. The streaming giant came on board in May 2017 and production was set to start in in Hawaii and Colombia in August 2017. With the casting eventually got right and despite all odds, the long-gestating actioner finally left the production limbo in March 2018 and the rest is, as they say, history.

Bigelow and Boal are both listed as producers, and the screenplay is by Chandor and Boal. The film’s eventual name, Triple Frontier, refers to the eponymous area, la triple frontera.

2. The Plot Might Not Be a True Story, but the Smaller Gestures and Moments Come From a Real Place.

The Netflix original action-thriller tells the story of a drug heist carried out by ex-special forces operatives. Though there’s no real heist that specifically inspired Triple Frontier, the characters were fleshed out from Boal’s experience and the actors’ works with real Special Forces operatives.

Boal’s experiences serving in Iraq in 2009 seems to have helped him add realistic traits to the vets in the film. Special Forces advisors like Kevin Rance and Nick John were also on set to help the actors work on the actual action scenes which gives the film a grim, gritty, and authentic quality in the face of Hollywood-style action. One other realism about the film is it’s shooting location.

3. It Assembled a Star-Studded Cast

From the onset, Triple Frontier was destined to cast some of Hollywood’s big names. A-Listers like Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Channing Tatum, Mahershala AliTom Hardy, and Mark Wahlberg indicated interest at different points to star in the film. They left at some points due to reasons ranging from conflicting schedule to production lag.

Ultimately, it still featured a few of Hollywood’s hottest leading men including Ben Affleck (as Redfly) Oscar Isaac (as Pope) Pedro Pascal (as Catfish) Charlie Hunnam (as Ironhead) and Garrett Hedlund (as Ben). Adria Arjona and Ray Gallegos also starred in the film as Yovonna, Pope’s informant and love interest and Lorea, the cartel kingpin, respectively.

4. Triple Frontier Ending

Triple Frontier
image source

J.C. Chandor’s dangerous heist movie does not only have a super attractive cast, but it also has a super ending that could set up a sequel. The first half of the film shows the actors as good people who crossed a line into evil rather than bad people recognizing that they are evil. These men, consumed by their greed and desire to hit fast money took a downward spiral only to realize in the end that they might be the villains of their own story.

In the second half, there were real regrets. They have risked their lives, abandoned a better part of the millions they carted away from the cartel’s hideout and lost one of them, Redfly before realizing that they have made some mistakes and should probably not have ever gone on the mission.

The survivors decide to donate their share of the $5 million they escaped with to a trust for Redfly’s family. As they got ready to head their separate ways, Pope suggests that he might go after his love interest, Yovanna. Ironhead scribbles coordinates on a piece of paper that represent the exact location of the ravine in Peru where they dumped a large portion of the money. This totally unexpected moment is what sets up the possibility of a sequel.

5. It Received Positive Reviews From Critics

Although Triple Frontier was a commercial flop, it found favor with film critics. It holds a 73% approval rating based on 120 reviews, with an average rating of 6.41/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, on Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 61/100 from 25 critics.

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