A fun, tension filled, full throttle action flick
Renegades is an action-adventure that sees a team of Navy Seals pull off an under water heist in an effort to help the lives of local citizens afflicted by conflict and war.With a budget of $80 million and shot over four different countries – France, Malta, Germany and Croatia – as well as having yet another script from the prolific Luc Besson and an experienced cast, Renegades is a surefire way to kick off the New Year with a bang. Renegades cleverly takes place over two different time periods; with the opening set in 1944 during the Liberation of France to carefully lay the foundation for the rest of the film which takes place in 1995 during the Bosnian war. Following a successful covert mission, which sees a team of Navy SEALs led by chief petty officer Matt Barnes (Sullivan Stapleton) take matters into their own hands, commandeer a tank and storm their way out of a somewhat tricky situation, Matt and his crew are afforded some well deserved leave.
And what better way to spend their free time than to help out the local love interest of Lt. Stanton Baker (Charlie Bewley). Lara Simic (Sylvia Hoeks) was told a story by her grandfather of a sunken village and enough hidden gold to easily enable her to rebuild her local community in Sarajevo. So after convincing her beau and his team to help her, they hatch a plan to retrieve the hidden treasure, Indiana Jones style, totally rogue and without the American Military’s knowledge. However, throwing a spanner into their effective planning is the local Serbian military which, combined with a turn of events not in their favour, now means the team have only ten hours to procure the goods before they get detected - not only by the enemy but by their own government officials.
When the opening of Renegades began I could sense an eye roll coming - ‘not another period war movie’ - but as soon as the prologue set the film up and the ‘present day’ film began it was hard to not get totally sucked into it. Written by Luc Besson and Richard Wenk and directed by Steven Quale, Renegades has some fairly decent collateral behind it, yet it is probably the kind of film that unfortunately will be over shadowed, and overlooked, by far bigger releases with bigger names attached. That said, it is a fun, action-packed watch that manages to combine various genres quite seamlessly. The storyline is fairly generic and by the book but its delivered in such a way, with a truly likeable cast and some fantastic cinematography, that it deserves more fan fair that it's probably going to get.
A large portion of the film is shot underwater in the fictitious village that houses the sunken gold. Filmed in Malta using three tanks, the largest being a 360 foot diameter deep tank, these scenes are both breathtaking and beautiful to watch. Shot over 10 weeks with the help of professional divers, who train the actual US military Navy SEALs with the Draeger Rebreathers, the cast used the same equipment which aids in the telling and believability of the film. The amount of work that went into creating the sets definitely shows and everything works cohesively in bringing the story to life.
It’s immersive cinematography and fun script makes Renegades an enjoyable watch
There really is no faulting the cast. They are all totally likeable and great in their roles. Yes, there is a touch of stereotyping and ensuring that all types of military character are present from the all-American leader, to the lothario, to the brainy one and, of course, let’s not forget the loveable prankster - oh! and the sexy female! That aside though, the casting is on point. The team of Navy SEALs have such great chemistry on screen and genuinely look as though they want to be there. J.K Simmons plays Admiral Jacob Levin, the man who oversees the NATO deployment that includes our heroes' Navy SEAL team. Simmons plays the role of Levin with a hard edge but a soft side, with a lot of love for his men who he clearly admires and respects, even if he doesn’t show it. Simmons provides some of the comic relief along with a great cameo from Ewen Bremner.
I can imagine some people will completely trash this movie saying its all action and no substance etc. But for me at least, it was totally enjoyable, funny and had solid ending. It is popcorn fodder at its finest, but after the heavy festive period what better way is there to slowly ease oneself into the new year than with a well-made and entertaining watch.
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