Review: ‘American Renegades,’ Another Mediocre Macho Action Film

American Renegades follows a group of five Navy Seals that is led by Barnes (Sullivan Stapleton), who is the stereotypical 'hardass with a heart of gold' leader. American Renegades is set up through a prologue that shows Nazis in the mid-40s ravaging a European town in Yugoslavia. They take artwork, gold bricks, villagers’ possessions, and pretty much anything else they can get their hands on. A group of locals fights back by blowing up a dam – which submerges the entire town and all the Nazis (and their gold) under a giant lake. Fast forward 50ish years and we are in the town of Sarajevo, and you guessed it, this town happens to surround a huge lake that may or may not have a sunken city at the bottom of it (spoiler alert – it does). Our group of Seals has a mission to abduct the ruthless Serbian general Milic (Peter Davor), and to do so quickly and quietly. The plan is to pose as reporters interviewing him, take out his security detail, and escape through the back of the building. Things go awry and naturally that leads to the entire Seals team commandeering a tank and blasting their way through the streets to safety.

Their commanding officer, Levin (J.K. Simmons), must reprimand them and put them on a brief leave for their actions, although he secretly praises their work. One of the team members, Baker (Charlie Bewley), doesn’t mind the leave as it gives him time to continue his secret relationship with a local woman Lara (Sylvia Hoeks). One evening Lara gets visited by some gangsters who are there to claim a piece of gold that she received from her grandfather. Baker and the team help her deal with the thugs and in turn she tells them the urban legend her grandfather told her of the sunken city and all the Nazi gold that still resides there, valuing over 300 million dollars. The team decides to try and retrieve the gold - there is no better way to help the local people than with hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention they get a little pay day for themselves. Baker, Barnes, and the rest of the team – Moran (Joshua Henry), Duffy (Diarmaid Murtagh), and Porter (Dimitri Leonidas) – use some of their military connections to secure equipment and hatch out a plan to get the gold, all while being chased by Milic’s replacement Petrovic (Clemens Schick) who is hellbent at finding the team and disposing of them.

American Renegades is nothing to write home about. Director Steven Quale does make sure we get our fair share of enjoyable action scenes, although they are over the top and ridiculous. We get a little bit of everything, from high speed tank chases, to underwater combat, and plenty of explosions – Quale makes sure to check a lot of boxes in the ‘how to make an action movie’ guide. Writers Richard Wenk and Luc Besson give us a script that is chalk full of silly one liners and American machoism. Somehow it does all come together and work, even with a lack of real character development and some shaky plot points. My biggest complaint is that there is just far too little of J.K. Simmons. When will people learn that the more Simmons, the better. American Renegades manages to entertain throughout its hour and 45 minute runtime and is probably worth a Netflix watch, there is much worse (and much better) out there.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5