Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Director – Steven Quale
Screenplay – Luc Besson, Richard Wenk
Cast - Sullivan Stapleton, J. K. Simmons, Ewan Bremner, Sylvia Hoeks and Charlie Bewley
Plot – On discovering that Nazi gold ingots were stored in a bank vault in a submerged town at the bottom of a Bosnian lake, a group of Navy Seals embark on a daring mission to retrieve the riches while avoiding the enemy Serbian forces.
Producer and writer Luc Besson has forged a career out of slick visuals (The Fifth Element), ‘Hollywood’-styled French action movies (Leon: The Professional) as well as ambitious kinetic think-pieces (Lucy). Unfortunately, Renegades is not an example of his best work, with a lack of stylistic flourish, dialogue or even memorable characters.
Directed by Quale, Besson and Wenk’s story suffers from a lack of originality (the basic conceit feeling like budget The Expendables meets the plot of videogame Battlefield: Bad Company) with the best section being a nod to James Bond’s Goldeneye (improvising an escape, the Seals highjack a Serbian tank and demonstrate alarming disregard for city buildings or civilian lives).
After a reprimand from their superior for said needless destruction (Simmons, suitably cast as the tough drill-sergeant-type) they are given three day leave and there they encounter Hoek’s character, Lara Simic, a local waitress who conveniently knows the whereabouts of gold worth $300 million which was hidden at the end of the Second World War.
From there, Quale’s film becomes an underwater heist film which almost benefits from the fact that the characters aren’t able to speak due to the first-draft-like generic dialogue in the preceding two acts. The underwater sequences are beautifully shot but the majority of the production feels very TV-movie.
The unit are also barely distinguishable from each other - no clear personality traits are shown other than macho-joshing - so character names will also barely register.
Overall, Renegades is an inoffensive action-heist film which opens with some decent intensity however is let down by an unoriginal screenplay, lightweight characters, forgettable dialogue and is, ultimately, remarkably unremarkable.