The Ending of Netflix's 'Triple Frontier' Leaves One Big Question Unanswered

triple frontier
Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

Triple Frontier is a movie where Ben Affleck sells real estate in khakis, Oscar Isaac looks forlorn in a helicopter while Metallica blasts away on the soundtrack, Charlie Hunnam attempts to stifle his accent while delivering long monologues, and a donkey falls down a mountainside with bags of money strapped to its back. There's a lot going on and it can get overwhelming. By the end, you might have either dozed off, switched over to an episode of The Punisher, or decided to plan your own heist with some of your closest ex-military pals. You might have missed the final moment of the film, which suggests these guys who just barely escaped with their lives might actually go back and do the whole damn thing again.

Before director J.C. Chandor's grim adventure arrives at that final exchange, it has to lug so much plot to the finish line. After Isaac's private military contractor Santiago "Pope" Garcia recruits strategic mastermind Tom "Redfly" Davis (Affleck), buff pretty boy William "Ironhead" Miller (Hunnam), level-headed helicopter pilot Francisco "Catfish" Morales (Pedro Pascal), and nickname-less amateur MMA fighter Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund) for one last (highly illegal) job where they rob a drug dealer's mansion in South America, the men find themselves on the run. Their helicopter crashes, they get in a deadly shootout with some villagers, and they strap the remaining loot to some pissed-looking donkeys. Pretty much everything goes wrong.

Then, in perhaps the movie's most surprising twist, Affleck's hard-charging leader, who got roped into the scheme to ensure his teenage daughter's future will be taken care of but finds himself unable to resist grabbing too much cash when the clock is ticking down, gets shot in the head by the son of one of the villagers he killed. There will be no redemption for Redfly, a man who was not meant sell condos or wear golf shirts. There will also be no sequel for Affleck, who gives the most distinct and compelling performance in a movie where individual characters don't exactly pop off the screen.

triple frontier
Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

You might not think Triple Frontier lends itself to a sequel -- save the Quadruple Frontier jokes, please -- but the tone of the final scene is rather purposefully open-ended. After the gang escapes during one final gunfight on the beach and each of the men decide to donate their share of the $5 million they did escape with to a trust for Redfly's family, they all wander out into the street for one last round of bro-hugs. They declare their love for each other one last time and get ready to head their separate ways. Isaac's character Santiago suggests that he might "go see this girl I know" in Australia, referring to his newly rich ex-informant Yovanna (Adria Arjona). It feels like the end is near -- and it also feels a little like the last scene in True Detective Season 2.

But when Ironhead (Hunnam) is about to go, he hands Santiago a slip of paper containing a set of coordinates. What are they pointing to? The location of all the extra millions of dollars they stashed out in the mountains, of course. (It's thudding-ly obvious, but Chandor also confirmed that's what they are in an interview with Newsweek.) As he walks away, Ironhead mumbles, "Maybe we could go do something good with it some day."Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in! 

triple frontier

The look on Santiago's face is one of bewilderment and a twinge of excitement: The money is still out there, likely buried beneath pounds of snow, and one day they might go get it back. It's a "cool" movie moment, one of many little beats in the often ridiculous Triple Frontier with serious meme potential, but it also strains credulity and falls apart under close scrutiny, like more than a few sequences in the script. First of all: Why didn't Hunnam tell the other guys that he had the coordinates? Are we supposed to think that Hedlund and Pascal have been cut out of the crew if there's a mission in the future? (Honestly, Pascal's character was most consistently "right" about everything, so he should certainly get a cut of any future earnings.) Wouldn't Santiago have a couple follow-up questions? Does Hunnam have an extra copy of those coordinates?

Most heist movies invite unanswerable questions, particularly when the plan is especially convoluted, and picking apart the details can be fun. But, despite the lengthy planning sequences and the emphasis on how gifted Redfly is at strategic thinking, the scheme in Triple Frontier rarely feels super complicated. Similarly, for all the time we spend with the characters, we don't really get a strong sense of what makes them tick or why they care for each other so much. When Hunnam says they could "do something good" with the money, does he mean he's gonna start a charity foundation or buy a yacht? If there is a sequel -- Chandor says the ending is "certainly open-ended enough to do it" and there's no shortage of casting possibilities -- it'd be nice to dig a little deeper into who all these hunks are.

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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.