Film Review: TRIPLE FRONTIER (USA 2019) ***

Triple Frontier Poster

Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes… See full summary »


J.C. Chandor


Mark Boal (screenplay), J.C. Chandor (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

Written by director J.C. Chandor (A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, MARGIN CALL) and Mark Boal, TRIPLE FRONTIER is an American action thriller filmed in Hawaii but set in Colombia where drugs and drug lords rule.  Mark Boal also wrote the Oscar winning THE HURT LOCKER which explains Kathryn Bigelow serving as executive producer for this film.  The film involves a drug money heist from unseen drug lords.  The film is not so much a robbery caper but an escape caper and more than half of the film involves the gang trying to escape from Colombia with the money.  TRIPLE FRONTIER is a Netflix original movie.  Netflix movies have the reputation of having scenarios that Hollywood studios are afraid to touch.  There are reasons that can be imagined studios would not touch this none.  It is not the conventional action film but the less said is better so that no spoilers may be revealed.

Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America.  For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for self instead of country.   But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.

The film looks at both greed and sacrifice, the former coming across more convincing than the latter.  In fact it is greed for money that accounts for the major part of the group’s problems.  As expected, loyalties are tested with  big fights resulting from the clash of personalities.  As stated at the start of the film when one of the Special Forces claim, as he lectures a new class of recruits on what it means to be a warrior; “We are trained to achieve an aim at the expense of any human being.”   The script ensures that this is reasoning behind how the five robbers behave and act during their escape.

The script, story-wise is nothing spectacular and leaves many holes in terms of credibility.  But the script leads to a few excellent action setups, most of these leaving the audience at the end of their seats.  The cinematography by Roman Vasyanov is stunning, especially the shots from the helicopter of the jungles and mountains.  The big crash of the chopper in the middle of the Colombian countryside in the midst of panicking horses is truly well executed.  The other action segment where the mules passing along a narrow mountainside path carrying large bags of money is cliff-hanging suspense.

Music is by Disasterpeace and contains few neat songs that suit the action of the film.

The five stars playing the Special Forces include Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal do a fair job and could be replaced by any other.  Oscar Isaac fares the best paying the lead character that keeps everything in check, while Affleck plays the wild card asshole in the group effectively.

The film scores strong points on the authenticity of the setting especially in the scenes set in Colombia even though the film was shot in Hawaii.  But why would these Colombian villagers go chasing after the 5, risking their lives in the process?



Full Review: THE BELKO EXPERIMENT (USA 2016) ****

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the_belko_experiment_poster.jpgIn a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.
Director: Greg McLean
Writer: James Gunn
Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona

Review by Gilbert Seah
Aussie director Greg McLean (Australians always have their special edgy sense of humour) and scriptwriter James Gunn (remember his super-gross SLITHER?) join forces to deliver the perfect horror thriller on office culture. Originally premiered in the Midnight Madness section at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the film still proves a fascinating watch the second time around.

Office politics turns into a real-life survival of the fittest when workers at Belko Company are forced into a sick game of kill or be killed by unknown sinister forces (revealed at the end of the film) that lock down their building, in this gruesomely funny horror thriller. It at first seems to be an ordinary morning on the job for a group of Americans working for a not-for-profit company in a modern office building in Colombia. After noticing that their Colombian colleagues have not arrived for work, office worker Mike (John Gallagher, Jr.) spots some unfamiliar security guards entering a large hangar nearby. Moments later, an icy voice comes over the building’s PA system and calmly explains that the employees must kill 2 other employers of their choice within 30 minutes — if not, they will be killed themselves. While the boss (Tony Goldwyn) tries to calm the troops, Mike belatedly realizes that something truly sinister is going on — and when metal doors come sliding down on all the building’s exits and windows, it becomes clear that friends and colleagues are now suddenly enemies in a bloody and brutal battle to the death.

Even before the action begins, McLean delivers lots of inside office jokes like the isolation of working in a cubicle, sexual harassment and the introduction of new employees. The film contains a good cross-section of workers like the maintenance men, the security, the bitchy lady manager et al. The film is a mix between disaster, sci-fi, horror and comedy which means that the filmmakers have plenty to play around with. In the kill to survive scenario, there is the good guy with all the right motives, the bad boss (handsome Goldwyn doing the villain as he did in GHOST), the unstable psycho, the asshole, the plump good meaning lady and so on.

The music, by Tyler Bates (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2), is an assembly of musical numbers from classical Tchaikovsky to a Latino version of “I Will Survive” effectively used at appropriate intervals. The sounds effects are superb especially the metal closing of the windows and doors.

Besides being a well-made horror thriller, McLean also squeezes in office satire and a fews good metaphors like the segment of the dos shitting and covering up its shit outside the Belko compound. There are a few predictable parts – like the one involving the office pervert/asshole sexually harassing the pretty employee. His comeuppance, with his life at her mercy comes as no surprise but provides the biggest cheer of the movie.

Best of all, the ending is unexpected, also providing a good twist to the story. THE BELKO EXPERIMENT proves to be very violent and satisfactory fun, if one can stomach the graphic violence.


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