Art imitating life? The latest action film to come out on Netflix is a must-see, big-budget production directed by J.C. Chandor, who also co-wrote the script. It has a big name, an outstanding cast including Ben Affleck, Oscar Issac, Charlie Hunnam, Gareth Hedlund, Pedro Pascal, and Reynaldo Gallegos, and an intriguing story.

The story is about a bunch of disgruntled ex-Special Operations soldiers who decide to risk it all, using their hard-won talents to benefit themselves. They take down a drug lord’s home deep in the jungle of the lawless Triple Border region where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina come together.

But getting the money and getting away with it are two entirely different things. When their survival is on the line, they’re tempted to turn on each other…hmm. That rings a bit close to the true events that we’ve seen in other news.

The action scenes in the film and this IS an action film are very well shot as well as very intense. That should please the fans of the action genre as well as the exquisite scenery. Parts of the film were done in Colombia and other parts in Hawaii.

These ex-Special Operations troops, experiencing a post-military life that isn’t treating them particularly well, something that has been a frequent issue with our Global War on Terror (GWOT) veterans. Affleck (Redfly), plays a bored unsuccessful real estate broker, selling seedy condos in Florida. He’s split from his wife and doesn’t have the greatest relationship with his daughter. He even drinks and drives while taking his daughter to school.

Hunnam (Ironhead) gives lectures to SOF troops nearing their ETS date, encouraging them to stay in the military with the enthusiasm of someone going to the dentist. Hedlund plays Hunnam’s brother who now competes in MMA fighting. The two are instantly believable as a brother tandem and their scenes together are superb.

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Pascal plays “Catfish” a former pilot who lost his license for running coke. They’re all struggling in their own way after life in the military although they’re still all close. Enter Isaac, who plays Pope, the only member of the group who is still in the game. Isaac as most of our readers know, played the hotshot pilot “Poe” in the Star Wars, Last Jedi film.

The film starts with Pope in a helicopter, while listening to Metallica ( I can relate), on his way to raid a drug dealer’s lair in the middle of a town. Pope is an advisor to a host nation counter-narcotics police unit.

All hell breaks loose and the action takes off as they take it down, but hardly cleanly. Pope then appears back in the states and tries to recruit his friends to join him in taking down the main drug dealer’s lair where he has millions of dollars stashed because he ostensibly doesn’t trust banks or believe in laundering his money offshore…okay.

Pope is aided by his informant Yovanna, played by Adria Arjona. Her part is basically to be shown running around while looking insanely hot in every scene. But her character development, as well as the others, is lacking. We really don’t know her motivation to stick her neck out for Pope, although it is hinted that the two are romantically involved.

It is surprising, and perhaps shouldn’t be, easy for Pope to talk his former mates into betraying their ethos as Special Operators and conducting themselves outside the law this time. Granted there is a large amount of money involved, and we are to believe that the country hasn’t given our veterans here a fair shake, but the gray area where their former patriotism is cast aside seemed a bit too easy. But again… maybe it isn’t so believable these days.

Of course, all hell breaks loose once they decide to go thru with the operation and they begin the raid. Chandor tries to show the thorough planning and meticulous attention to detail that Special Operations are known for, resisting the typical Hollywood image of just knuckle-dragging brutes with automatic weapons.

The action scene at the drug lord’s house is actually fairly early in the film and was the highlight of the film, the action tense and expertly filmed. While the character development was lacking in this, it is at its heart an action film. The actors are all excellent in their own right and they make this film a fun ride to watch.

We’re going to give the filmmaker a pass on how easily they portray these Special Ops vets transitioning from patriotic pipe hitters to criminals, and just sit back and watch for the finale. This is kind of a Kelly’s Heroes morphs into the GWOT generation. It isn’t perfect, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable way to spend a night at home. Now crank up the Metallica again…

The trailer can be seen here:

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Photo: Netflix


*Originally published on Special Operations.com