Is Netflix's Newest Alpha Male Movie Worth Your Investment? (Minimal SPOILERS)
Last week, my wife was down the hill at rehearsal, so I had the evening...to watch a manflick...while lifting weights. (No, I will not disclose how many pounds they were.)
>> THE FILM OF CHOICE
That night I decided upon Netflix's original film Triple Frontier. Bam! It's currently on Netflix. This film boasts an impressive cast from Ben Affleck to Oscar Isaac to Charlie Hunnman.
IMDB summarizes the plot in this way: "Loyalties are tested when five former special forces operatives reunite to steal a drug lord's fortune, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences."
While the moon turns blood-red and the stars fall out of the sky more often than I recommend a Netflix original movie or show, this Alpha Male, testosterone-fueled action film impressed, entertained, and even provoked me to some worthwhile thoughts.
(Side note: this picture was taken in 2018: the day Netflix released their original re-boot Lost in Space.)
Back to Triple Frontier, while I cannot highly recommend it, I can recommend it with some reservations.
On the SVL (sex, language, violence) scale, be warned that it scores pretty high on language and violence. There are some sexual innuendos, but there are no graphic sexual scenes.
This film is rated R, primarily because of the language...and the violence helps too.
Why do I still recommend this film (with reservations)? Overall, the worldview is sound.
I think it's wise to evaluate a film not only by what SVL it contains, but by what worldview it's communicating. Triple Frontier carries a message that I see is consistent with the Christian perspective.
>> NOT WHAT I THOUGHT
At first glance, I guessed Triple Frontier would be in the vein of so many other crime thrillers that are popular these days. I thought it'd be a bent film like the Oceans 11 series of films.
Bent films are characterized by there being no clear distinction between good and evil, or the good guys and the bad guys. In Oceans 11 and its sequels, we're drawn into rooting for the bank robbers for many reasons...including their good looks and wit. In the end, the bank robbers win the day...and if we're honest, we're glad! Another example of a bent story is HBO's The Sopranos or AMC's Breaking Bad.
Without spoiling too much, Triple Frontier is not a bent film, or at least not in the same way the previously mentioned films and shows are.
>> THE WORLDVIEW
This film actually reminded me quite a bit of Leo Tolstoy's short story "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" In this powerful work, Tolstoy offers a vivid picture of what happens when a man lets ambition, greed, and discontentment slosh around in his soul. I've used this short story in my classroom many times.
Now, Triple Frontier is no Tolstoy story, but it shares many of the same themes.
>> IT'S A TROJAN HORSE TOO
All films are Trojan Horses, packing perspectives in them on the world, but not all Trojan Horses deserve to be barred outside the city.
Even though this film is wrapped in some unsavory layers (like language and violence), the worldview hidden in the belly of the horse is one that speaks truth. Triple Frontier offers a cautionary tale for those of us willing to watch and listen.
Overall, I found the writing, acting, and directing to be pretty good. The first act feels a little clunky in the acting and dialogue realm, but once the plot takes a turn, the quality rises with it.
Despite these flaws, the movie held my attention and even startled me a few times (though it was mostly because I was so impressed with how much I could bench press while watching the movie.)
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a critic score of 73 and an audience score of 63, which is decent.
If you choose to watch the film, or you've already seen it, I'd like to know what you thought, even if you disagree with my evaluation.
In conclusion, if you'd like to know more about how to approach a story from a Christian perspective, check out these free resources.
>> THREE RESOURCES
ONE. If you're looking for more movies and shows we recommend that have been recently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime, check out these articles:
The above list was posted in February 2019.
The above list was posted in August 2018.
TWO. If you'd like to know more about how to watch a movie with a Christian perspective, please email me and it'd be my honor to share with you my booklet and webinar for free called "Engaging the Trojan Horse: Watching Movies with a Christian Perspective."
THREE. Are you constantly on-the-go and you don't have time to sit down and read? If so, check out our new podcast in which a pastor and I walk through movies with a Christian perspective, laying a theological and philosophical foundation so you also can engage stories with Christ in mind.
Until next time, may you approach all things, including movies, with a Christ-centered perspective!
Dane Bundy is president of Stage & Story and cast chaplain at LifeHouse Theater in Redlands, CA.