REVIEW: Renegades

January 5, 2018

Director: Steven Quale
Screenplay: Luc Besson, Richard Wenk
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Charlie Bewley, Alain Blazevic, Sylvia Hoeks, Joshua Henry, Dimitri Leonidas, Clemens Schick, Ewen Bremner, J. K. Simmons
Runtime: 105 Minutes




Although French director Luc Besson has directed 20 films over his nearly four-decade career in the business, he has credits on over eighty films from numerous filmmakers in both a production and writing capacity. So it's safe to say that not all of them are going to be winners, in fact, they rarely ever exceed being average.

Renegades is another one of this pictures, an action B movie and following a team of Navy SEALs that is hired to salvage Nazi gold stored in a bank vault in a submerged town at the bottom of a Bosnian lake. The film was shot back in 2015 under the title The Lake, with its release date being pushed back multiple times by the studio - which clearly shows their confidence in the production.

The film is overall a total wash of borrowed tropes and stock types spread over a storyline that even for this kind of film feels thin and overstretched. None of the supposedly colourful renegade cast of characters come across as interesting or even unique with relationships that feel forced beyond their spouting of technology and weaponry.

There's an admittedly watchable opening sequence of the close of a previous espionage mission that positions them as something like The A-Team as they steal a tank as a last resort of escape, but then devolves into an action-centric heist movie that's pretty light on the action part.

The performances of the main SEAL team members are uniformly poor as they all seem to blend into the same character. Heavyweight J.K. Simmons is brought onboard at points to stir up some engagement but is clearly just here for the check, and poor Sylvia Hoeks does little more than deliver exposition.

The direction from Steven Quale is uninvolving but not totally incompetent. Some of the action is done well and it looks okay thanks to his returning DP Brian Pearson. But the screenplay is terrible with some lines that are real head-scratchers ("The thing about gold is, it’s heavy") and some uncomfortable tonal swings against its backdrop of Bosnian genocide.

Renegades is cut and shut, bog standard fare that should have gone straight to streaming services. Mostly inoffensive but very dull and instantly forgettable.


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