There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a lighthearted action flick that’s more concerned with entertaining audiences for two hours than anything else. When done right, these can be highly enjoyable. Steven Quale’s Renegades, however, isn’t one of these films.
From its opening sequence, Renegades appears to be the sort of wacky, overblown action romp perfect for a rainy day. There’s enough creativity on display to be engaging and the climatic tank chase is just the right kind of insanity to lure the viewer in to what’s essentially a poorly written bore of a heist movie. With a premise as straightforward as a team of highly trained Navy SEALS searching for a stash of hidden Nazi gold, it’s staggering just how much Renegades gets it wrong.
One of the biggest stumbles lies in the weak characterisation of the heroes. None of this ragtag team of soldiers have any defining character traits. Aside from yelling every cliché line in the action movie playbook, they can most likely be found acting like chauvinistic meatheads. The plight for characterisation isn’t helped either by an underuse of veteran actor Ewan Bremner, whose only role is to pull comical faces. Fortunately JK Simmons’s performance of the no-nonsense sergeant is Renegade’s saving grace. It’s simply a joy to watch him on screen clearly relishing the role.
Engaging storytelling is also severely lacking. It often feels like there are chunks of scenes missing as characters spontaneously appear where they need to be. Additionally, conflict with an antagonistic regime feels forced insofar as the film would’ve been much less convoluted without it. Moreover, with poorly lit and edited action sequences (specifically those underwater), the conflict is only made harder to follow.
Throughout the movie, however, there are still moments of entertainment to be had. Action scenes are hard-hitting with the right amount of cinematic insanity to be enjoyable and JK Simmons provides an onslaught of perfectly delivered one-liners. The music, too, has an appropriate sense of levity encapsulated in a catchy tune, but even this isn’t consistent and frequently resorts to out-of-place musical stings for comic effect that would be more suited to a sitcom.
Renegades may have the overblown action set pieces, but underneath there’s nothing much to be gained from its uninspired characters and narrative. Not even Simmons could save this one.
Renegades is released in selected cinemas on 5th January 2018.
Watch the trailer for Renegades here: