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‘Renegades’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 02, 1989

"Renegades," starring Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips, is as pure an example of a very specific brand of Hollywood product as you're likely to find. It's a package, plain and simple: stars plus a high-concept premise, stripped down, no options.

No personality, either.

From the looks of it, though, personality isn't necessarily a desirable feature here. It's the kind of extra that might spoil the aerodynamic design. Perhaps then it's better that the stars aren't that big (real stars cost real money) or the concept that high.

The details of the plot are plug-in; they function merely to get the characters into position for action. In this case, hot ice and a sacred Indian lance are involved. Both the diamonds and the artifact were stolen by a patrician psychopath (Rob Knepper), who loves his horses much more than he loves his girlfriend (Jami Gertz). Phillips plays Hank, the Lakota Indian who commandeers a Philadelphia policeman named Buster (Sutherland) to retrieve his tribe's precious totem and in the process complete the policeman's undercover mission to unmask a dirty cop.

Though both stars are wonderful camera subjects, their performances are hard-boiled to the point of oblivion. They, too, are interchangeable commodities -- actors of the brattish stripe. Driving the cars in the chase scenes and shooting the guns at all other times are their duties, which they execute with a minimum of fuss.

In "The Hidden," director Jack Sholder provided just the sort of odd, unclassifiable atmosphere that is so lacking here. He's homogenized himself. As the maniac's girlfriend, Gertz falls prey to the picture's I-Can't-Be-Bothered attitude. Having gotten herself mixed up with Hank and Buster (who, as a running gag, insists on calling his cohort "Chief"), the young woman is shot down in the street by her lover. A little later an ambulance arrives. What happens to her after that we never know.

"Renegades" is rated R and contains violence and strong language.

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