Three Frontiers

Tri-Border Junction


13 March 2019| No Comments on Three Frontiers     by Sean Chavel


Any action movie is going the extra mile if it’s set outside of the United States, and takes us into the heart of darkness of, say, South America. Three Frontiers instantly plunges into a raid set in a remote Brazilian village where U.S. Special Forces are after drug money. Some casualties occur, but it’s handled expertly by Oscar Isaac (“A Most Violent Year”) who is in charge. He’s a brainiac raid planner with such cache that he’s a freelance military operative. He’s also crooked and looking for the payoff of his life. Yes, the plot is lifted from David O. Russell’s “Three Kings,” a good steal if you ask me.

Isaac gets a lead where Lorea, Brazil’s biggest drug kingpin, hides all his cash. (It is not held in a bank, since he must be one of those stupid kingpins who doesn’t believe in banks with offshore accounts.) We get nearly an hour of quality set-up as Isaac ropes together his old buddy team to rip this house off, and it’s a good cast of tough dudes with chips on their shoulders that includes Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal.

The plot gets rolling when it is learned that there is $250 million dollars hidden in Lorea’s cartel safe house. That’s more than Isaac’s outfit can carry on their backs, but they refuse to let some cash go and stingily bag up as much of it as they can. Supposedly, their getaway helicopter will do the most heavy lifting, but even that flying bird has weight restrictions. First stop: Peru. Unscheduled second stop: the Andes Mountains of Peru.

The film clearly insinuates that these five renegades are invariably greedy, and on that note, I was waiting for the film to punch up on the themes brought up seventy years ago in the classic “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” only to see that John Huston film do more on the topic of greed than this one. “Three Frontiers” is engaging entertainment that starts persuasively, only to lose some of that cache when these five guys start making too many mistakes. Yet what’s here is praise-worthy, there is quality dialogue with weary veteran grit, and the lush locations are a trip. I just think it would have been the ultimate head trip had at least one character lost their bloody f$@#in’ soul. “Three Frontiers” is a swell diversion but it could have done more.   

Background: Kathryn Bigelow nearly directed “Three Frontiers” before she dropped out to go make “Detroit.” In place, Netflix picked up the rights and gave leeway for J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call,” “All is Lost”) to come in and direct. Chandor collected screenwriting credit along with original writer Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”).

125 Minutes. Rated R.          


Film Cousins: “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948); “Three Kings” (1999); “Sabotage” (2014); “Gold” (2017).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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