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European films

Film review: Renegades – Luc Besson-produced military heist thriller is a 24-carat turkey

Not even a convincing cameo from J.K. Simmons or superior underwater scenes can save this gung-ho flop

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 11:51am

1.5/5 stars

Two years after it was shot, this military heist thriller from producer and co-writer Luc Besson’s troubled EuropaCorp company has finally seen the light of day. But save for some impressive underwater photography and a scene-stealing cameo from J.K. Simmons, Renegades proves less enjoyable than a week at boot camp.

Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton (300: Rise of an Empire) leads a US Navy Seals unit on a covert operation to rescue US$300 million in Nazi gold from the bottom of a lake in the war-torn Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. With a sympathetic local (Sylvia Hoeks, also in Blade Runner 2049 ) in tow, the cocksure unit of gung-ho commandos must avoid aggressive Serbian forces as well as their Nato peacekeeping allies, before they are shipped home by their bullish commanding officer (Simmons).

Besson’s script is typically clogged with broad ethnic stereotypes and tin-eared dialogue, as the Americans make their way through Europe displaying a woeful disregard for standard military practices.

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Lacking both the anti-war spirit of Brian G. Hutton’s Kelly’s Heroes and the satirical wit of David O. Russell’s Three Kings, the similarly plotted Renegades trudges through a series of uninspired, implausible set pieces with all the dexterity of a second world war tank.

Except for Simmons’ performance, which appears as if it’s been airlifted from a far superior piece of work, the film’s only redeeming feature is a technically impressive third act staged almost entirely underwater. But not even the prowess of director Steven Quale, who cut his teeth under James Cameron on Oscar winners Titanic and Avatar, can save this 24-carat turkey.

Renegades opens on October 5

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