Director J C Chandor’s ‘Triple Frontier’, named after the border area between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil represents many things, in the guise of a heist film. It tells the story of a group of special operations soldiers who band together for one last job, which obviously goes wrong. To be honest, labelling it as just another heist movie, will be a disservice to the whole film. It represents the changing nature of human relationships and traits. It’s often said that the true colour of an individual comes out in the most adverse of the situations. ‘Triple Frontier’ represents the different obstacles the team faces and the more they try to wriggle out of it, the more they get entrapped into it. Through this article, we, at The Cinemawala will be discussing the motifs that the film explores and that ending, which probably has left many wondering as well as disappointed. Before you proceed, please be aware that spoilers will be there. Read on!
’Triple Frontier’ begins with a group of soldiers on a mission against the Drug Cartel in South America. Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia leads the mission and after a spectacular show of firearms, they manage to catch the people huddled in the building. In the apprehended group of people, Pope sees Yovanna, whom it clearly appears Pope has a feeling for. Upon interrogation, Yovanna asks for help from Pope to release his brother from custody, in exchange for the whereabouts of the drug cartel’s money safe house. Lorea, the drug lord, lives inside the jungle where he has stashed all the money. Pope goes back to the US to regroup his former mates; William ‘Ironhead’ Miller, his brother Ben Miller, Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis and Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales. After retiring from the military service, each one of them is struggling hard to fit into society. Pope’s persuasion and the lure of the money force them to do this one last job.
The group reconvenes and does a recce of the operation. Redfly, being the chief strategist decide the rules of engagement. They decide to attack the safe house on a Sunday when Lorea will be alone inside with minimum security. The team storm into the house but do not find the money. After a brief search and killing Lorea, they realise that there’s no safe, rather the whole house is stashed with money in the walls. They start loading their escape vehicle with money. Redfly’s greed makes the group overshoot the window and soon they’re trapped by Lorea’s mercenaries. Blowing their way out, the team makes the exit, with a wounded Ironhead. Catfish, the designated pilot for the mission figures that they have stolen close to $250 million and it will be difficult to carry the load in their escape copter, at higher altitudes. After leaving Yovanna and his brother at Peru border with a bag full of money and a ticket for Sydney, Australia, the team tries to make their exit via flying the copter over the Andes mountain range but the copter blows the gearbox and they crash into a paddy field.
The growing tension between the suspecting villagers and the team results in a shootout where Redfly and Catfish end up shooting the villagers. The team leave the village, after paying for the dead folks and the mules, to carry the money bags. On their way up on the mountains, Catfish ends up losing his mule loaded with money and there’s visible tension in the team. The next day, when the team tries to descend the mountain, Redfly is shot to death by a young man from the village, who was tracking them from earlier. The team decides to carry Redfly’s body with them. Having forced to leave the mules, the team, after keeping a portion of the money, throws most of the money bags into a ravine, hoping it to be covered with snow and lost. As the team tries to escape, Lorea’s men attack them. Fighting through the group, the team finally escapes with approx. $5 million cash in hand. Back at the US, the team decides to forfeit their individual shares and donate it to Redfly’s family. Before going their separate ways, the team meets once again, with Ironhead leaving a note to Pope, with the coordinates of the ravine where rest of the money bags are dumped. The movie ends as Pope contemplates of leaving for Australia to be with Yovanna or go back to get the rest of the money.
The movie explores various themes through this tale of the heist. Ironhead, who’s shown to be a motivational speaker for the military, is introduced as someone who implores retired military folks not to fall for mercenaries or contract jobs for they seem to be ruining the person inside. Ironhead himself goes against his own policy and agrees to do this one last job. But as the mission progresses and the situation deteriorates, he is the first person to come to his senses. Redfly, who’s the chief strategist of the group, decides to forego his own set of rules when greed makes him load some more bags of money. It is important, as the group revered Redfly for his tactical sense and they see a pale version of his former self, as he seems to be abandoning his own principles, at the sight of money.
One can argue that more than himself, it’s Redfly’s need for his family that made him do this. It also can be observed that every time the team prioritizes money over everything else, they end up paying for it. Redfly’s mistakes haunt him throughout the journey, which eventually ends with him getting killed by a boy, whose father was shot by Redfly, in the village. Ironhead gets shot and Catfish, who’s an experienced pilot, despite knowing that the copter cannot fly with the stolen load of money, still decides to take the risk, which ends up with the copter getting crashed.
In the end, the team realises that the only time they were happier when the team was together, clearly evident at the mountain top when Ben burnt a bag of money to keep them warm or the moments shared between them. It leads them to donate their share of whatever money was left to the deceased Redfly’s family, for them more than the money, the loss of a friend hurts the most. The movie ends on a cliffhanger as Ironhead hands over the coordinates of the money bags lost at the ravine to Pope. It remains to be seen what Pope decides, going back to the ravine to get the money or leaving for a simpler life at Australia with Yovanna.
‘Triple Frontier’ now streaming on Netflix worldwide.