Even though it needs a new title, the drama known as Triple Frontier finally gets underway next week at Netflix. Perhaps the most apt title would be The Movie That Refused to Die. Ben Affleck is back, heading the ensemble, along with Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund and Adria Arjona.
The J.C. Chandor-directed, Charles Roven-, Alex Gartner- and Andy Horwitz-produced drama is a study in how a worthy script can stay alive, despite setbacks that often are fatal. We last wrote about this one when the picture fell apart after Affleck withdrew for personal reasons as he dealt with sobriety issues. This was when he was going to star with brother Casey Affleck and Mahershala Ali, right after those two were coming off their Oscar-winning performances in Manchester By the Sea and Moonlight, respectively.
Affleck and Ali dropped out over scheduling after the last setback. But Affleck didn’t exit. He put in the rehab time and is in shape, as evidenced by paparazzi pictures of the new cast as they’ve trained on the beach in Oahu, where they now begin shooting March 26. Chandor had long eyed Isaac, though his schedule was impossible in the picture’s last incarnation, and a window opened and he committed. Netflix took on the picture after Paramount let go of it after Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum dropped out weeks before production was to begin. This was after the picture’s prime advocate, the late Paramount chief Brad Grey, got fired and Paramount’s new management wasn’t eager to make a high-budget topical political thriller that had just lost two big stars.
The film’s plot: Loyalties are tested when five friends reunite to take down a South American drug lord, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences.
Netflix film head Scott Stuber provided a lifeline, and has worked ever since with Roven and his Atlas Entertainment to keep this one from dying. The one unresolved issue now is title; the thriller that Mark Boal scripted years ago for his The Hurt Locker partner Kathryn Bigelow to direct was called Triple Frontier because of its setting in the notorious border zone with Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, where the Iguazu and Parana rivers converge. That area is no longer considered as dangerous as it was; tourists go there now. Chandor has worked on the script and the location still borders Brazil. It will shoot in Oahu as well as in Colombia and California. Thomas Hayslip, Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb are executive producing.
The script has long been catnip for filmmakers and talent; in addition to Bigelow, Tom Hanks, Will Smith and Johnny Depp circled to star before Tatum and Hardy committed and exited. Chandor wrote the latest draft of the script.