Picks and Pans Review: Renegades
Lou Diamond Phillips, Kiefer Sutherland
Phillips holds up his half of this buddy film about an American Indian and a police detective who team up to chase a killer. Sutherland, however, looks like a 13-year-old who has put on a fake mustache and tries to act tough. An opening sequence in which he captures a carload of gang members—by pretending to be drunk and then pouncing on the bad guys—sets the tone for unlikely deeds to come.
The film does accomplish one thing: It simultaneously insults Philadelphia and ancient Babylonia. No, nobody's tombstone says, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Babylonia." But the movie is set in Philadelphia, whose police force in particular and population in general are depicted as filled with cowards, crooks, incompetents and various louts. Director Jack (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge) Sholder is a Philadelphian who probably should watch speed limits carefully next time he goes home to visit.
Screenwriter David Rich, meanwhile, says that he got his inspiration for this, his first produced script, from the Babylonian myth of Gilgamesh, although Gilgamesh is not known to have participated in quite so many car chases as this movie suggests.
The first chase comes after a jewelry robbery in which Sutherland, working undercover, takes part. Things go awry and people are killed, including Phillips's brother. Villain Rob (That's Life) Knepper also steals a lance belonging to Phillips's Sioux ancestors.
Phillips spends the rest of the movie doing vague Indian medicine tricks that help him and Sutherland find Knepper so they can take a break from the car chases with a few gun battles. Phillips also does some martial-arts stuff, bareback riding and spear throwing. He doesn't do even one I chorus of "La Bamba," though that would I have come as a welcome relief. (R)
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