Regardless of your feelings towards Luc Besson’s most recent cinematic output, nobody can deny that a production carrying his name can usually be relied upon to bring something new, if not always coherent, to the action genre. In the case of Renegades, a film co-written by Besson and directed by Steven Quale, you might be hard pressed to find anything positive to say about this lazily put together, badly acted, and above all, poorly judged production.
Following a group of Navy Seals as they make their way through war-torn Bosnia in the 90s, Renegades not only offers a historically inaccurate account of the events, it also manages to infuriate further by presenting a ludicrous storyline held together by a series of poorly executed action set pieces.
Starring Australian action star Sullivan Stapleton as the leader of US Navy Seal unit, and J.K. Simmons as his constantly exasperated superior, the film tells the story of the unit’s attempt to retrieved a treasure of Nazi gold from the bottom of a lake. Going against their superiors’ wishes, the team goes rogue and engineer a heist and return the gold to its rightful owners. To complicate things even further, the unit is also locked in a cat and mouse pursuit with enemy forces who make it their mission to foil the men’s plot and leave them with very little time in which to execute it.
Director Steven Quale, whom we are told is a dab hand at aquatic filmmaking, does a decent enough job in presenting an action packed underwater production, but the film is ultimately let down by its inability to offer a believable enough narrative thread. As we are time and time again presented with the same repetitive tropes and clichés, not least in the form of some of the most horrendously self-aggrandising jingoistic dialogue, one can’t help but feel deeply sorry for J.K. Simmons as he is yet again wheeled out to perform the same angry sweary schtick we have come to expect from him since his Oscar winning performance in Whiplash.
Besson, who co-writes alongside Richard Wenk, is sadly unable to bring anything resembling a believable storyline to this ailing production, which in turn makes the whole thing seem rather amateurish and lacklustre to say the least.
On the whole, Renegades is unable to convince as a war movie and even less as a heist one. With some potholes you could drive a tank through and a premise which fails to offer any discernible plot, the film is at best forgettable. A messy production which fails to bring anything of any value to the genre. Avoid at all cost.
Renegades is out on Friday January 5th.