Starting the New Year with a bang is the explosive military mayhem of Renegades which from the start sets outs it stall with a brain free boom & bang extravaganza with WWII Nazi’s pillaging a Bosnian town and stocking it with treasures that they’ve purloined from across Europe. However they don’t bargain for some freedom fighters blowing up a dam, flooding the village and drowning the Nazi’s. Hoorah! Leaping forward to modern day Bosnia, or at least to the Nineties, when a group of five elite American soldiers as part of a peace keeping UN force dress as a TV crew and infiltrate the inner circle of a Croatian General purportedly to interview him. All goes well as it’s a cover for an extraction plan which, obviously for a film like this, has to go awry. What follows is more bonkers boom and bang as a granite faced sergeant sends a whole platoon after the unit who make their getaway in that favourite getaway vehicle of any bank robber…….a three tonne tank. It’s a spectacularly ludicrous and highly enjoyable getaway.
As written by Luc Besson (Valerian) you’d hardly expect anything less with his crack unit overcoming all manner of obstacles and yet still not being court marshalled by JK Simmons Army General playing his usual irritable and angry persona whose made for this type of role even though his scenes barely last for a few minutes
Set in the former Yugoslavia during the Serbo Croat war the unit, having been suitably admonished, drown their sorrows having grown bored with their peacekeeping role. It’s whilst out drinking in a bar the five get friendly (or in one case very friendly) with the waitress who tells them about the flooded village beneath the lake with its stock of gold now valued at $300m. Cue the plot because from hereonin the unit plan to retrieve the gold using military assets with the intention of keeping half for themselves giving the other half to the locals to help rebuild their country. At the same time they have to keep their plan secret from old JK Simmons himself who is possibly the most jocular military general ever.
What follows is essentially a heist movie with soldiers featuring half decent set pieces including a plane v helicopter scene starring Ewan Bremner (T2 Trainspotting) sporting an American accent and an obvious need to pay bills when he appears in something as overtly commercial as this. Playing like the A Team meets the Expendables this has satisfying action sequences, albeit a fight where the drunk renegades best our own SAS to a soundtrack of rapper Ini Kamoze’s, ‘Here comes the HotStepper’ which is either Besson’s dig at the Brits which is somewhat ironic from a writer/ director whose home country is renowned for its cheese eating surrender monkeys or it’s a necessary concession for getting US financing to make the film.
Without any star names the soldiers are a pretty generic bunch who are obliged to be swear free as demanded by the films 12a certificate. The action sequences, especially those underwater, are impressively handled by director Steven Quale whose most notable previous film is Final Destination 5. He serves up some technically impressive moments notably a shot which follows the soldiers parachuting out of the back of a plane and into and below the lake surface. After the bloat of excess of New Year this is one way to blow away the cobwebs.
Here’s the trailer…….