(director/writer: J.C. Chandor; screenwriter: Mark Boal/story by Boal; cinematographer: Roman Vasyanov; editor: Ron Patane; music: Disasterpeace; cast: Ben Affleck (Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis), Oscar Isaac (Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia), Charlie Hunnam (William ‘Ironhead’ Miller), Garrett Hedlund (Ben Miller), Pedro Pascal (Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales), Adria Arjona (Yovananna), Reynaldo Gallegos (Gabriel Martin Lorea), Sheila Vand (Lauren Yates), Madeline Wary (Tess Davis), Reynaldo Gallegos (Gabriel Martin Lorea); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Neal Dodson, Alex Gartner, Andy Horwitz, Charles Roven; Atlas Entertainment/Netflix; 2018-English, Spanish, Portuguese, with English subtitles if needed)
“All is well because Chandor has a way of keeping the action scenes enthralling.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An escapist action picture on greed as second nature to the bad guys and at times even corrupting the misguided patriotic good guys. It shows the usual action genre tropes for B-films. Writer-director J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call”/”All Is Lost”) keeps it well-made but it’s sloppily written by Chandor from the Mark Boal heist-story. Though the flick is messy and filled with contradictions, all is well because Chandor has a way of keeping the action scenes enthralling. The title is derived from the border shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where the main action takes place. To give the film some heft, Bob Dylan’s Vietnam-era song “Masters of War” goes on the soundtrack when everything comes together for an explosive wild climax. The plot has five former Special Forces men who were stationed together in S.A., Tom “Redfly” Davis (Ben Affleck), Santiago “Pope” Garcia (Oscar Isaac), William “Ironhead” Miller (Charlie Hunnam), Miller’s brother Ben (Garrett Hedlund) and Francisco “Catfish” Morales (Pedro Pascal), reunite in S.A. to carry out a heist of a drug cartel in a sparsely populated border area. One of the former military men, Santiago, works with the Brazilian police to try and nab drug lord Gabriel Martin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos) with the illicit drug money after a big drug deal goes down. He also works with a sexy informer (Adria Arjona), his mistress, who knows how the cartel operates. When the drug lord eludes them, Santiago tracks his old military bud Ironhead for help, but only mentions he needs the army PR man for reconnaissance duty. Soon the tight group of former black ops operatives, all screw ups in civilian life, including the divorced withdrawn real estate agent Redfly and the unlicensed pilot over a coke arrest Catfish, reunite. And like in The Dirty Dozen, each gets a one-on-one grandiose greeting into the foray. As the men do the dangerous heist raid, they run into problems trying to airlift the great amount of cash (250 million dollars) out of the country via helicopter and crash in the Amazon. Their survival skills are tested and so are their loyalties, as they wickedly play the blame game for their troubles in the jungle (showing there’s no honor among thieves). In the end things may get a little bit more complex than the usual action film, but it’s still a standard-issue formulaic risk-free thriller filled with tough-guy talk and eye-catching macho action scenes.
REVIEWED ON 3/1/2019 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/