Monday Face/Off: Jeremy Renner

Kayleigh (spends hours each day firing arrows into a photograph of Hawkeye’s face):
I don’t even know why we’re having this conversation, I really don’t. How could anyone find Jeremy Renner, a man with the general appearance AND the acting abilities of a broad bean, anything other than utterly awful? He’s gone from big action flick to big action flick, favouring the roles of generic cop and soldier with a frankly worrying gusto – and now he’s going about as the diabetic reincarnation of a beloved Grimms fairytale character. Yup, I’m talking Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – which is, without question, the worst of a bad bunch of dire looking films out in cinemas this week (barring Safe Haven, obviously). So really? Really Megan? ARE WE REALLY GOING TO PRETEND FOR A SECOND THAT HE HAS ABSOLUTELY ANY REDEEMING FEATURES WHATSOEVER? Hit me with your words; I’m more than ready for you…


Megan (admits she genuinely finds Jeremy Renner “kinda cute”):
Yes. Yes, we are going to, not pretend, but prove that Jeremy Renner is indeed an actor to watch out for. Not because he’s some namby-pamby, rom-com, pretty-boy, but because he is building that beloved persona of the rough-and-tumble, beaten-but-never-down-for-long ACTION HERO! He has a rather stoic presence that lends well to the simmering violence we have come to expect from the likes of Statham, Stallone and Schwarzenegger and manages to remain convincing in the delivery of the much-loved one-liners. He is MEANT for roles where the character required an understated but intense performance, which is why he remains memorable in S.W.A.T., received such acclaim in The Hurt Locker and pulls off continuing the Bourne franchise. There is no way you can look down on a man that can take on with such confidence a character that has previously been so popularly established. Your argument has no standing, in fact, only in feeling, but good show all the same!


You call him “stoic”, I call him “bland and uninteresting”. Watching Jeremy Renner attempt to have a conversation on-screen is pretty much the equivalent of a visual sedative – the man has absolutely no concept of character development. Unless, of course, that character development revolves around learning to shoot things. Because Jeremy Renner loves to shoot things – he absolutely bloody loves it. Has he been in a single film where he HASN’T fired off a weapon into some poor, unsuspecting and probably vastly more talented actor’s face? Nope. All hail the (to use your words) “namby-pamby rom-com pretty boys” of cinema, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender, all of whom are able to juggle SEVERAL genres and character stereotypes, as opposed to Renner’s singular point-and-shoot one. I’d much prefer my poster boy to have a little more depth than the actual literal poster his snub-nosed face is plastered across…


Oh my poor dear Kayleigh! Confusion seems to be the colour of your day. Let me help and explain…

1. If you regard Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender as namby-pamby, rom-com, pretty boys then we have bigger problems than just Jeremy Renner.
2. As you have so succinctly put it “Jeremy Renner loves to shoot things”. AND THAT’S THE POINT!!! Jeremy Renner is an action hero in the making and action heroes SHOOT things! They do not moving, emotional, breakdowns or charm your pants off. They kill, slaughter, maim and out-right destroy! The catch is to do it with believability and that means not just looking the part physically but being capable of exuding the straight-laced, hard-to-the-bone, stone-cold bad-ass!

There will always be exceptional actors, much like those you have named, who can traverse a spectrum of genres and be brilliant at all of them. But when it comes to the good, old, dependable action film you need a man that you haven’t witnessed in any form of vulnerability and never will (if you need an example look no further than Pierce Brosnan who single handed brought the Bond fan community to their knees with the atrocity of Mamma Mia). That’s what keeps the premise remotely possible and the thrill real!


First things first, I regard them as men who are IN rom-coms (which is apparently a crime in the Book of Megan) and also as very pretty. Have you see their lovely little faces? Ever so pretty. And manly. And all the good things we want in our male leads. All the things that the ham-fisted Jeremy Renner, sadly, lacks. Next up, you cannot EVER fault Pierce Brosnan’s performance in Mamma Mia – a film which our mighty editor John Underwood saw in cinemas THREE WHOLE TIMES. Why? Because it’s so very joyful and tuneless and reminds us, once and for all, that the man can juggle the role of 007 AND lovelorn divorcee with wondrous ease. Do you think Jeremy Renner could do that? He absolutely 100% couldn’t. Mostly because his face joins onto his shoulders without bypassing anything that looks remotely like a neck (I hear a larynx is useful for singing), but also because he lacks the conviction needed to move between genres like a cinematic ninja. An excellent actor can keep the premise possible and the threat real, regardless of all the other films he’s starred in, because he is just that; an excellent actor. Just look at Bruce Willis, who managed to star in The Sixth Sense as a GHOST (a ghost with FEELINGS, no less!) and in Die Hard as a gun-toting madman. Threat levels: very high. Premise: very real. Mission accomplished. If Jeremy Renner came on screen as a ghost, you wouldn’t feel sorry for him; you’d cringe inwardly and dial the nearest exorcist, stat. Or, you know, maybe a local tree surgeon. His performances really are just that wooden.


Agreed. But only with the fact that the boys you’ve picked are very pretty. And the rest of them certainly stands up to the test of quite manly. And as actors they are known as the cream of the crop. BUT THEY ARE NOT AND NEVER WILL BE ACTION HEROES. I mean they can try, they may even manage a passably good action movie (e.g. Drive) but they will never have the grit and grandness necessary to be a truly great action hero! (and yes there is a difference).

You bring up Bruce Willis in the The Sixth Sense as if it is even COMPARABLE to Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia. Willis plays a ghost, not the Casper-the-friendly kind but the morose, tortured version which thus maintains his hard-won and much loved tough guy persona. Brosnan prances around an island SINGING 80s disco anthems! And for that will never be forgiven! He was Bond! No matter that the transgression was years after his stint as the suave, martini-swigging man of mystery, the minute he used his mouth for anything but dynamic pick-up lines he killed it for all of us.

And this is why I have to come back to my initial point. Jeremy Renner is the perfect build up to an action hero for all the reasons you think he’s a bad actor. You say he has no neck? Of course he doesn’t! How else would he avoid getting it cut off! You say you wouldn’t feel sorry for him? DAMN RIGHT! Because you can never feel SORRY for an action hero! If you did they wouldn’t be a HERO!


AHA! And so you fall into my carefully woven web, little fly – Jeremy Renner IS a singer. And he’s not even that bad at it. Just check this out, if you don’t believe me…

Yup. Singing away blithely – long before his time as an action star is at an end. Let’s remember that Pierce, ever so shrewdly, only showed off his (somewhat limited) vocals AFTER his time as Bond was over. Renner’s been singing his lungs out all over the place – and this, by your very own argument, renders Renner absolutely USELESS as an action hero and therefore useless as an actor all together. Because, as you’ve so aptly pointed out yourself, what else can Jeremy Renner do? Nothing. He’s just a big tree people like to stick in films, looping guns and weaponry onto his branches and hoping for the best.

And yes, Bruce Willis is awesome. I said that already, didn’t I? Far superior to Jeremy Renner BECAUSE he can steal empathy away from the audience WITHOUT compromising his tough guy act. What a totally incomparable action legend he is, eh? If only you were fighting on his behalf…


SERIOUSLY! That’s your defence for Pierce Brosnan? Lame, Kayleigh, very lame indeed.

The clip you have scrounged up is from a Saturday Night Live episode. A comedy show! And thus, Jeremy Renner’s singing was meant as part of a joke! He even says in the clip that he is not known for comedy but for ACTION. All American actors at one stage of the career end up on that show, it’s like being on Jay Leno or David Letterman or Ellen, publicity free and simple. Unlike Brosnan who took himself very seriously when he opted to appall us with Mamma Mia, a movie which had an international release!

My argument still holds true, Renner is an action hero in the making and thus should be viewed only as such. And yes Willis is and forever will be a yippee-ka-yay legend! But you’re wrong about everything else.


Renner also sang in The Assassination Of Jesse James, you know. Serious movie. Much more actually serious than Mamma Mia, which is NO WAY to be considered as anything more than lighthearted fun. Did you see it? Did you actually see it?


Yeah, I did.


Did you like it?


Yeah, I did actually…




Do you love or hate Jeremy Renner? Join the debate below!


By Kayleigh Dray and JLSB Sirisena

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