There are two big twists in Triple Frontier, Netflix’s new “Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac and the boys do a heist in the jungle” movie. The first twist is structural, not so much a zig instead of a zag as it is a full-on hard left. The second twist is your more standard plot turn. A thing happens that you probably do not expect. Reader, I gasped. We will get to that soon enough. We’ll get to both twists, actually, because we are about to get way into this. We are going to discuss Triple Frontier, spoilers and helicopter malfunctions and donkey mishaps and all. If you don’t want to see any of that, consider this your last chance to get out.
Or, to quote Ben Affleck in this movie: “Any man here who wants to walk away now can do so knowing they’re the best of us. But it’s gotta be now.”
You’ve been warned. The floor is open.
What are the twists?
Dammit, hold on. I can’t just open by telling you the twists. There’s an art to this, a dance if you will. We need to put down some foundation first. Come on. Work with me here.
Sorry. Do the foundation thing.
Here’s what you need to know: There’s a drug dealer in South America. He’s very powerful and he’s hidden away inside a jungle compound and he allegedly has many millions in cash in there with him. The people who are trying to take it from him are former Special Forces members who are fed up with civilian life and want to get rich while taking out a bad dude.
So these Special Forces guys… are they like your basic heist team members, character quirks and all?
I am pleased to inform you that they are. Let me introduce you to the team.
– Oscar Isaac plays Santiago “Pope” Garcia, the guy who put the whole thing together after seeing how bad the area was while working for a private contractor. His kinda girlfriend/informant is a beautiful woman who delivers cash to the compound and whose brother was recently arrested.
– Ben Affleck plays Tom “Redfly” David, the former leader of their team and a planning mastermind, who is now an unsuccessful realtor and sad divorced dad, which you can tell because he lives in his ex’s garage and drops his daughter off at school while “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac plays.
– Charlie Hunnam plays William “Ironhead” Miller, who does not have a lot to do in this movie.
– Garrett Hedlund plays Ben Miller, William’s brother, who was not in the Special Forces but who is, of course, a semi-professional cage fighter with a daredevil streak.
– Pedro Pascal plays Francisco “Catfish” Morales, a helicopter pilot whose flying license is suspended because of a cocaine bust, which is really just glossed over in all of this.
These are our heist boys.
Can I ask a question?
Is this one of those movies where, like, Oscar Isaac tries to recruit Ben Affleck for the heist but Ben initially says no because “he’s retired”?
I knew it. Is it a “one last job” movie, too?
Okay, I think I understand what’s going on here.
See, you think that. This is all Heist Movie 101 at this point. This brings us to twist number one.
The heist itself — the storming of the jungle compound — happens halfway through the movie and goes off with almost no hitch, save some extra security guards getting mowed down and the line “the house is a safe” from earlier in the film proving literal and prophetic when they discover all of the walls are full of cash.
How do they discover that thing about the money?
Someone smells fresh paint!
Classic. But if the heist happens in the middle, and it’s relatively quick and easy and not like Jungle’s Eleven, then what the heck do they do for the whole second half of the movie?
Walk around the Andes, mostly.
Okay, let me explain. So the heist goes swimmingly. They actually get way more money than they were expecting. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million. But two problems pop up pretty fast:
- They have so much cash that it creates a weight issue for the chopper
- Affleck’s character starts getting really weird and intense about the money
And then, as they’re making the run from the compound to the sea, over the Andes, things start going bad.
Uh, that’s not good.
Nope! And it gets worse! Because after they crash land, they get into an ugly firefight with the townsfolk who saw a huge pile of money fall from the sky, and then they resort to buying mules and donkeys to take the money over the mountains.
Well, at least they have a plan.
Is it weird that a part of me sort of expected the mule to explode when it hit the ground, like how cars do in movies when they fly off cliffs?
Okay, good. So this was the second twist?
Also nope. Gimme a minute. First, we need to talk about the money. Here are some things that happen to their $250 million stash as they attempt to escape:
- Gets dumped out of the chopper to lighten the load
- Crash lands in the aforementioned field
- Is used to pay off the villagers after killing some of their friends
- Gets set ablaze to provide warmth in the icy mountain night
- Gets heaved into a deep crevice when they realize they can’t carry it all anymore
None of which is super ideal.
Lemme just check something to be sure I still understand this movie. When they lit it on fire, were they laughing a little maniacally, like maybe they became unhinged?
I knew it. Now tell me the second twist.
Okay. You know how in any movie like this, a heist movie with gunfire and violence, one of the main characters ends up dying?
Well, guess who dies in this one.
Oh man. Okay. It’s gotta be the loose cannon cage fighter. Definitely. He doesn’t have the Special Forces experience and he’s the kid brother of the mature member of the team. He’s a goner.
I thought so, too. But nope.
Wow. Okay. Okay. Then it’s the cokehead pilot, right? Why else would they give us that detail? That way we feel less bad because he had problems.
Well, it’s definitely not gonna be Affleck, so that leaves Oscar Isaac and Charlie Hunnam. You already said Hunnam doesn’t have much to do in this movie, so I’ll guess he was just there to be recognizable collateral damage.
Damn, so it was Oscar Isaac?
Was it, though?
Wait. You’re not telling me…
I might be. ..
They killed off Affleck in the Ben Affleck jungle heist movie?!
But he didn’t even get killed off in The Town! In fact, he got reverse killed off, in that basically everyone else died and he got away clean to retire to some sunny waterfront house, which was really weird, like the movie thought we were supposed to be rooting for him or something. He was a jerk! He should have died or at least faced justice!
So do you think this was the universe just balancing itself out after that?
Hmm. Probably not. His character got weird as the movie went on. He went from Sad Dad to Trigger Happy Greed Fiend. The kid who shot him was actually one of the people from the town they shot up. It was a revenge thing.
Yeah, I’m with you. I did not expect it. I even joked about it in the lead-up, how everyone had a look on their face in the trailer like “Well, one of us is gonna die and it ain’t gonna be Affleck, so…” Joke’s on me!
So then what happens?
I mean, the ending? The survivors rush to the getaway boat through a village filled with heavily-armed teens and make it home with whatever cash they could carry. It worked out to about $5 million, total, which they all vote to leave in a trust for Affleck’s character’s daughter. Which was also weird. Most of the problems they had were his fault. He insisted on taking more money than the helicopter could carry. He started the gunfight in the village. He made them stay in the house too long during the heist, which is why they had to shoot more guards. He almost ruined everything.
Yeah, they should have definitely kept the money.
Screw Ben Affleck.
It’s not all lost, though. Remember how I said they threw a bunch of the cash into a crevice in the Andes?
Well, right at the end of the movie, Charlie Hunnam hands Oscar Isaac a slip of paper.
ARE WE GETTING A TRIPLE FRONTIER 2?
THE HUNT FOR REDFLY’S LOOT.