Netflix's 'Triple Frontier' Is About 'Good People Who Get Caught Up in Doing a Bad Thing'

John Hogan
Preview NETFLIX

The mission: insane. The team: past their prime. The outcome: anyone's guess.

Five former Special Forces soldiers reunite to bring down a South American drug lord and steal his vast fortune in the new dramatic thrill ride Triple Frontier, from director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost). At one time these men were the best of the best, but now they're just…well, far better than most people. Is that enough to go up against a murderous drug kingpin and his well-armed militia of bodyguards?

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Tactician Tom "Redfly" Davis (Ben Affleck), pilot Francisco "Catfish" Morales (Pedro Pascal) and scrappy brothers Ben (Garrett Hedlund) and William "Ironhead" (Charlie Hunnam) Miller are recruited by Santiago "Pope" Garcia (Oscar Isaac) for the brazenly ambitious plan. Based on information Pope has received from his mole (Adria Arjona) inside the criminal enterprise of Gabriel Martin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos), they might have a chance. But it's risky and illegal, and backup won't be coming.

"They've been away from each other for five or six years," Chandor says of his band of retired brothers. "They're rusty, but they still click. They communicate well and get right back into it. But [viewers will] hopefully experience the real sadness, regret and feelings of abandonment that [come when] your best years are behind you. There are a lot of similarities between these guys and the upper echelon of professional athletes: Right when you start to feel like you have the brain power to make a change in the world, they kick you out and you have to start over again."

Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund, Charlie Hunnam and Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier (Netflix)

Those feelings are exacerbated when the heist goes way off-kilter, causing them to rely heavily on their well-honed survival skills. But the biggest alteration to the mission comes when Davis — a dad who can't afford to send his daughter to college — convinces the group to take even more money than originally planned. Not only does that keep the squad inside Lorea's house longer, but it means their helicopter might be overweight — a huge problem considering that their getaway route involves flying over the Andes Mountains.

As tensions rise, both the mettle and moral boundaries for all five men will be firmly tested. "My belief is that they are all good people who get caught up in doing a bad thing," Chandor says of his high-testosterone protagonists. "There's this human element where you can get wrapped up in something and you don't realize what stance you're taking until it's too late. They do what they do and whatever you think about that, I leave up to the viewer."

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Triple Frontier — the title refers to the area where the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet — followed its own twisty path to Netflix. The original script, by The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal, has been floating around Hollywood for nearly a decade, with Paramount Pictures and Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) formerly attached.

Over the years, a gaggle of A-list stars were either in talks, or signed on and then departed the project, including Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum, Mahershala Ali and Mark Wahlberg. Four years ago, Chandor — whose last film, 2014's A Most Violent Year, also starred Isaac — came on board as director and cowriter. The project moved to Netflix in 2017.

Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier (Netflix)

"I thought it was going to be a much shorter undertaking," Chandor says with a laugh. "It was this insane process that fell apart a couple of times and finally came back together. In the end, I think we got the right people for every part. The right version ended up getting made."

That's key. Because as the men of Triple Frontier can attest, timing is everything.

Triple Frontier, Movie Premiere, Wednesday, March 13, Netflix