5 Reminders That Jeremy Renner Does Not Suck

jeremy renner hansel and gretel witch hunters1 600x399 5 Reminders That Jeremy Renner Does Not Suck

The recent release of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which I haven’t seen and don’t exactly plan to, is one of those January dump jobs. Studios traditionally release their poorly-tested projects in this period out of contractual obligation, when most people are still seeing the awards contenders in their theater runs. Poor Jeremy Renner is the latest victim of this trend.

A recent piece on Vulture demonstrated the utter lack of interest Renner has shown in promoting this movie that has been pretty much universally hailed as terrible, and who can blame him? He seems to be going through a bit of a slump, in a year’s span that saw a rather poorly received Saturday Night Live hosting gig, a disappointingly thin role in The Avengers, and now he’s the Hansel & Gretel guy.

But there was a time, in the very distant past, the annals of movie history, when Jeremy Renner was a respected actor, known for playing roles with integrity and intensity. I exaggerate: he’s being dragged through the mud right now for a couple of lame jobs, but seriously, it’s worth remembering that he’s a good movie dude. Here’s 5 things to remind us of this fact.

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1: The Hurt Locker

jeremy rennes 5 Reminders That Jeremy Renner Does Not Suck

This movie is really his claim to fame, the role that kickstarted his rather rapid rise to recognition, even though he had some decent credits to his name before The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow came knocking. But this is the one that made Jeremy Renner a household name, at least in the houses that pay much attention to movies, and with good reason: he is perfect in the role of Sgt. James, a borderline madman charged with diffusing or disposing bombs in Iraq.

It’s a film that serves as a demonstration of the whole Chris Hedges “war is a force that gives us meaning” idea, that one of the big reasons countries stay in a state of perpetual war is because they like it. It makes them feel something. The Renner character in The Hurt Locker is a manifestation of the United States’ addiction to war: his role as a bomb diffuser, the best in the forces from the sounds of it, gives him purposes. When he returns from his tour, he’s lost. He doesn’t know how to live a life outside of these extreme situations. It’s a fascinating portrait of a character and a country, and Renner’s performance grounds it in reality, bringing a undercurrent of anger and confidence and magnetism and possible madness to the part that really brings Sgt. James to life. It’s probably the second-best role he’s played, to my mind.

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2: The Town

Jeremy Renner 5 Reminders That Jeremy Renner Does Not Suck

As for Renner’s best performance, I’d have to give it up for his terrifying work in Ben Affleck’s The Town. While I’d argue the movie isn’t as strong as Affleck’s others, this year’s Argo and 2007’s quietly brilliant Gone Baby Gone, this isn’t at all because of Renner (in fact, it’s probably because of Affleck’s greatest shortcoming as a director—casting Ben Affleck in his movies). In fact, the most interesting thing about this movie is probably Jimmy.

We saw in The Hurt Locker the seething nature that Renner can convey in a part. He seems cool on the surface but at the same time indicates so much bubbling just beneath the calm facade. Obviously much of this can be attributed to the character context provided by the story and script, but a good actor can really draw this out for the audience. As Jimmy, Renner is pretty terrifying. With the potential to go off at any moment, we don’t really notice it at first, but this guy is a bit of a loose cannon, which gets developed as the movie progresses and as Doug starts to recognize Jimmy more and more as a liability. He’s a criminal and probably a psychopath but Renner captures his intrigue and makes the relationship between him and Doug real for the audience, and all with the help of a charming Boston accent.

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3: The Assassination of Jesse James

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Here’s a role that came before Renner’s big surge of recognition in The Hurt Locker, and so it’s not one I or many people will probably remember him terribly well for. It’s one of those parts that you look back on and think oh hey, I noticed how great this one character was back when I watched it, and I had no idea that actor would turn out to be Jeremy Renner. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an odd little movie, at once gorgeous-looking and deliberately (read: slowly) paced and enigmatically presented.

Renner plays the strange little scoundrel and cousin of Jesse James, Wood Hite. Overshadowed by the roles played by Brad Pitt and Sam Rockwell, and rightly so, Renner delivers a solid and idiosyncratic performance as Wood, using his lesser stature to great effect and eventually serving as the catalyst to the main action of the story through his feud with Dick Liddil. Renner gets the inferiority complex of the character just right.

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4: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

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The first among the current wave of franchise pictures Jeremy Renner is riding, the latest Mission: Impossible installment solidified him as a dependable performer, able to bring a certain earnestness mixed with mystery to his characters with what has become great consistency. This intrigue is essential to the Brandt character, spelled out pretty clearly by the exchange with Tom Cruise and played in all the promos for the movie before its release: “Who are you really, Brandt?” “We all have our secrets. Don’t we, Ethan?”

He holds his own against the powerhouse that is Tom freaking Cruise, which is noteworthy as Renner was being tossed around as possibly replacing Cruise as the headliner for the franchise. He’s fun to watch, but with a couple other franchises on the go, including another leading part in The Bourne Legacy that will likely lead to future commitments to that role, one hopes that Renner doesn’t get stretched too thin. Although, with the energy he shows alongside Cruise in this thing, maybe he can handle it.

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5: The Bourne Legacy

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This one came out after The Avengers, so Renner was slightly redeemed after his seeming non-existence as Hawkeye earlier last summer. It was kind of a tall task for him too, replacing Matt Damon as the flagship bearer for the Jason Bourne series. How do you replace Jason Bourne in a franchise about Jason Bourne? The answer, evidently, was through smart writing and a solid performance to go with some tremendous action set pieces and potential for further development as the story goes forward. This was a fairly large risk, at least in terms of the movie being absolute crap, and the prevailing opinion seems to be that they came out on top, with Renner bearing a lot of responsibility for this film’s success.

It sucks to see actors who have turned in really good, interesting work start to look like they’re fading away into schlock and oblivion. With his most recent turns as Hawkeye, his failure to bring the funny on SNL, and now the disastrous Hansel & Gretel, it appeared maybe Renner could be headed down that road. Then again, he’s likely to return in the next Mission: Impossible installment, and he’s also teaming up with James Gray in a new project due out this year, plus a David O. Russell project in the works for 2014, so perhaps things will swing back upwards for the currently slumping and visibly annoyed Jeremy Renner.

Additional thoughts on Jeremy Renner? Do you have doubts that he’ll rebound? Share your thoughts below.

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  • http://twitter.com/MinimeJer05 Jeremy Lebens

    You had me until Bourne. One of the worst film’s I’ve seen of 2012 for sure. Renner wasn’t completely responsible for it, but his performance is NOTHING compared to Damon’s. Everything else on the list is spot on as to why I usually enjoy Renner on the whole. The Town probably sticks out as his best.

    • Alex Lowe

      I actually didn’t think he was horrible in Bourne. I mean, obviously he’s no Damon. No one is. But as a stand-alone performance I thought it was actually pretty good. He just suffered a lot since the story wasn’t remotely as strong as the other films.

      • Michelle Kirkwood

        Renner actually was pretty good in BOURNE—anybody that’s taking over a role in a franchise from a previous star is gonna have a lot to prove comin straight out the gate, and frankly, I thought he did a pretty good job (and this is coming from someone who saw and liked all 3 of the original Bourne films.) He just brings a down-to-earthiness and a realness to his characters that gives them life and makes them memorable. That, and plus the fact that he’s refreshingly hot in a refreshingly non-Hollywood way, makes him worth watching.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Harding/666655323 Russell Harding

      I think Renner did admirably with a terrible script, the basic premise of which was ‘one man fighting to not become Forrest Gump again’. Unworthy as a follow up to a great series, which should be allowed to depart with what dignity it has left

  • Ianna

    THANK YOU. I have been waiting for an article like this. It completely infuriates me when people say Renner is a shit actor, but haven’t seen The Town or the Hurt Locker. My hat’s off to you, man, seriously, thank you. This is an awesome article. Renner is one of the best actor’s I’ve ever seen and he definitely needs this.

  • Rowyn

    I enjoyed Hansel and Gretel. It knew what it was and was never billed as a brilliant piece of art. It was fun and the costumes were amazing. Sometimes movies are really just entertainment and Renner was fantastic in that as well. That being said, I’d have replaced Bourne with Dahmer on this list, personally. At least to show the range he is capable of playing.

    • Rachel

      Totally agree! This movie should be viewed as pure entertainment. I watched this with my two teenage sons and we got a real kick out of it. I personally think it sh@t all over Snow White & The Huntsman – if anyone wants to pick the sh!t out of poor acting skills I say lets put Miss Smilely face Kirsten Stewart into the firing line!

      • Tavish


        • DAks Clone

          and FIRE again!!!!

        • DAks Clone

          and FIRE again!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.gerics Jay Gee

      Dahmer was a great piece of acting. It was a truly disgusting, evil role that was beautifully acted.

    • Daoofgeek

      Agree, Rowyn. Hansel & Gretel was a fun movie that didn’t take itself seriously. Just watched it again last weekend and liked it even more the second time around.

  • beth

    He was great in 12 and Holding and Take. He was an abilty to bend his apperance to fit the character.

  • Dalinkwent

    The funny thing is Hansel and Gretal made money and the general movie audience seem’s to like it. Jeremy is doing just fine.

  • MKK

    There is a big difference between diffuse and defuse. Learn it.

  • slowlycrashing

    Hold on, you’re criticizing Hansel and Gretel for being stupid, and yet you claim Bourne Legacy is better?

    Uh, no. Legacy was awkwardly paced, suffered from bad writing, and the direction was terrible. At least Hansel & Gretel was fun, Legacy was just boring.

  • that guy

    28 weeks later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/asheslady38 Dawn Hiner

    The Hurt Locker is an amazing movie…Will keep you on the edge of your seats…Loved The Bourne Legacy, it was full of action and Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross was fabulous!!! Haven’t see The Town but I have to get it…The man is an amazing actor and actually very humble too. Watch some of his interviews on Youtube and you will see what a real man he is…Love this guy!!

  • Sam

    instead of Bourne i would have gone with 28 weeks later or S.W.A.T. I think Renner was much better in those movies.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Harding/666655323 Russell Harding

      Agreed, Renner brought a lot of heart to 28 Weeks, one of the few instances of the sequel matching the original IMHO

    • http://www.facebook.com/EDJee Emily Jividen

      I always think of S.W.A.T.

  • Heidi

    I love Jeremy Renner! Thanks so much for this article! I have been waiting a long time for someone to come to their senses about Renner, he is an awesome actor, one of my top favorites!

  • Cat

    Well, he’s gonna star in a David O. Russell film with Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence. I’m guessing it’s a good bet.

  • Renner’s girl

    I actually liked him in Avengers, and Hansel and Gretel. I agree, he’s an amazing actor, but he manged to make the roles he plays always stand out, and I don’t think you should criticize any one of his characters.

  • a b

    i’ve never seen anyone imply that Renner resembles anything close to suck until i came across this article. haven’t seen anyone call his role in The Avengers “thin” until this article. maybe it’s just this author’s friends that are stupid.

  • Ashes

    I am a hugh Renner fan and i agree with the movies you picked but i would also add Dahmer and Neo Ned, some of his early work. I have to disagree with you on Hansel and Gretel. This movie was awesome, it was pure fun! Jeremy himself and his co stars have described this movie as not being serious and just being fun and pure escapism. He was amazing in the movie and it looked like he had alot of fun doing it.

    • Ashes

      oh yeah i also thought his role as Hawkeye was also great. Yeah true it wasnt a huge role but he didnt let that stop him. He made Hawkeye a great and memorable character.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tabetha.bane Tabby Bane

    You should ahve included his performance as Jeffrey Dahmer. It was playing the role that even got him noticed by Kathryn Bigalow.

  • DrNope

    I liked him a lot in 28 Weeks Later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Beverly-Wagner/565656735 Beverly Wagner

    I’d LOVE to see him in a movie that wasn’t riding on the backs of someone else. MI: Ghost Protocol, Bourne Legacy for example. He needs a good solid role and not another backseat Hawkeye role. He’s an actor I look forward to seeing more of so I hope they utilize him more efficiently in the future. He also seems like a real fun guy so I wish him all the best.

  • Anna

    Neo Ned is definitely my favorite Jeremy Renner movie. There are no words to describe the incredible acting of Jeremy Renner or the way he makes you feel for his character of Ned Nelson. He makes you believe he is his character. I have rewatched Neo Ned countless times and will continue to do so!

  • Maria Paramythatzou

    Maybe Hansel and Gretel wasn’t the best movie ever but was enjoyable. He wasn’t given the space to show his abilities, and lets face it the studios always mess up with actor’s careers. He did the best job under the circumstances…

  • Miller72

    No I do not doubt for one minute that Jeremy Renner will fade away, he’s just had a slow down which happens to most actor’s. Renner is too good in fact I think he’s freakin’ awesome as an actor. I actually first saw him in “Dahmer” where you guessed it, he played Jeffery Dahmer and it was low budget and on VHS (wow) but for some reason I thought he done a pretty good job so after that every time I’d see a movie with him in it, I’d watch it, as one does with any good actor they like. When I saw him in the “Hurt Locker” I literally got chill bump’s, (I know I’m weird) but what can I say, once you start watching him you can’t stop because he’s got “It” as they say. He’s born to act in my opinion. F.Y.I. “the Town” and “Mission Impossible” were great too. So I’m positive he’ll come roaring back in no time, all he need’s is a good role to take on, hey nothing else I’d LOVE to see him join Rick and Daryl on “The Walking Dead”, those three together, wow they’d tear it up buddy, Walker’s and all, lol. Thanks guy’s.

  • Kaity

    I think Jeremy is incredibly hot. I loved him in Bourne Legacy! So intense! Another great role of his was in SWAT, opposite Colin Farrell. I was shocked to see him in Hansel and Gretel because he has such talent and that movie was total crap. I hope he picks it up.

  • Kaity

    I think Jeremy is incredibly hot. I loved him in Bourne Legacy! So intense! Another great role of his was in SWAT, opposite Colin Farrell. I was shocked to see him in Hansel and Gretel because he has such talent and that movie was total crap. I hope he picks it up.

  • Kaity

    I think Jeremy is incredibly hot. I loved him in Bourne Legacy! So intense! Another great role of his was in SWAT, opposite Colin Farrell. I was shocked to see him in Hansel and Gretel because he has such talent and that movie was total crap. I hope he picks it up.

  • JJ

    Jeremy Renner is a great actor. Even though his roles as Hawkeye in Thor and The Avengers is a bit small, he did an excellent job. And what about him as Brian Gamble in S.W.A.T.? That was good too. He was good in Hansel and Gretel, but the movie itself was a bit of a bust. Jeremy Renner is a highly under-praised actor and he deserves a lot more credit then he gets.

  • Grashopper

    He also did an amazing job with Dahmer, Neo Ned (both mentioned in other comments) and others that aren’t such big hits. He’s making more money now but he has the ability to really transform himself, and will take roles where he won’t be liked. He also strictly did theater in the beginning and I think that helps actors get strong.

  • rcarlso1

    Renner has shown his terrific ability to capture the essence of complex characters and allow the audience to feel that intensely.In The Hurt Locker ,The Town and especially in The Assassination of Jesse James, Renner demonstrates his ability to hold the audience’s interest in his character,even when the scene belongs to another actor, much the same a young Steve Mcqueen did in his early roles.( See the hearse scene with Yul Brenner in The Magnificent 7 ) Renner will be around a long time,

  • http://www.gpxgaming.net/ Emanuel Camacho

    Dahmer was an amazingly haunting film, and it’s mostly because of Renners portrayal. He’s a strong actor with a lot of great films ahead of him. I remember the first time I saw him on screen was in S.W.A.T. — that movie was cheesy, and plot device driven, but he was actually pretty good in the film.

  • Gloria

    Renner has been hit too hard with a thing that assails all actors at some point! Bad writing! Renner’s ability to make even the poorest of roles memorable is a testament to his skill.

    I was disappointed by Legacy but not because of his performance but because there was nothing in it to make me care about the character. An actor works with what he is given. Renner wasn’t given very much. Legacy was a poor remake of the first 3 Bourne movies. If they wanted to make the same movie as the past 3 films they should have brought Damon back. New character new story. Not the same re-hash on a poor premise.

    I found there was a slightly different problem with Avengers. Hawkeye was taken out of the mix too early, He was turned into an automaton and we don’t get any story with Hawkeye much less back story. Although with Downey, Helm, Johansson, and Ruffalo it is inevitable that some actors would fall into shadow.

    What Renner needs is a well produced, well written vehicle that is created around him. He is the reason I re-watch The Hurt Locker! He’s the reason I watched Hansel and Gretal which I really enjoyed. A B movie that enjoys the fact that’s its a B movie. Great fun! So if he’s in it I’m basically there so let’s give him something to do!

  • Jason Bored

    Really he was in the bourne (as in Jason Bourne) legacy? I didn’t even notice anyone in that movie probably because all the times they name dropped Jason Bourne got in the way of the acting, story and visual effects. Someone should count how many times they say Jason Bourne in that movie. I think it would have been just as good in audio only and I’m sure Jason Bourne would agree.
    Come to think of it all his movies I have seen he has stuck out like a zit on the face of a super-model, he doesn’t act he makes a goofy face and read some lines. a B movie actor in some otherwise great movies.

  • Yuri Bien-Aime

    I still loved him in SWAT!

  • Genevieve Prentice

    There was also a fantastic show called “The Unusuals”. Only had one season, but there are a lot of one season shows worth checking out. This is one of them. It’s no longer on Hulu though, so you’ll have to look.