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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 18, 2018 


Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) is a secretive young Irish woman who has assembled an international group of experienced covert operatives (with no particular allegiances, like the Ronin, lordless Samurai) in Paris: Sam (Robert De Niro), Larry (Skipp Sudduth), Vincent (Jean Reno), Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard), and Spence (Sean Bean). Their task is to steal a mysterious briefcase. After staking out their prey and establishing their plan in Nice, the group strikes and retrieves the briefcase, but things immediately go wrong. One of the group flees with the valuable item, and the chase begins. As allegiances change, the team members realise they can trust no one. As the team attempts to retrieve the coveted case and its unknown contents, they discover that more operatives, including Russian businessman Mikhi (Feodor Atkine) and another mysterious fellow, Seamus (Jonathan Pryce), also want the briefcase and will kill anyone in their way.

"With its modern political reference point revealed only at the end, Ronin is a masterful and welcome thriller in a trusted old genre – the secret agent thriller – that has been overlooked lately. Veteran director Frankenheimer (with lots of great close ups) demonstrates the value of experience in a classic piece of filmmaking that has ‘hit’ written all over it. There is a well written script with a powerful story, strong characterisations and edgy direction with heaps of tension, intrigue, mystery and just a tiny smidgin of romance. The film has not one but two finger gripping good car chases that justify your ticket price, plus a powerhouse of performances, not the least from de Niro, McElhone and Reno, cast impeccably and given some excellent characters to invent. Support roles and incidental characters are outstanding, the locations – South of France - rich and used in the unusual winter mode, while Smiral’s score is ballsy and novel. Everything works in this gripping and entertaining thriller, even the introspection. Hot stuff."
Andrew L. Urban

"You can almost smell the Seine and taste the dust in Ronin, an exciting thriller that throws ambiguity, thrilling car chases and intriguing characters into the mix. And it all starts with an economical script, engaging characters and rock solid performances. Robert De Niro and Jean Reno are wonderful together – masters at work. Theirs are rich, enigmatic characters whose complexities almost entirely lie beneath the surface. Stellan Skarsgard, Natascha McElhone and Jonathan Pryce add their own style and class. Each character has a sense of mystery, and the element of surprise is retained throughout. The complex, at times discordant music, enhances the stylish, focused direction, making for pulsating rhythm and pace. The car chases are extraordinary; the stunts mind blowing. Ronin is classy, intelligent and fast paced action – a satisfying, heart stopping journey that wins on all counts."
Louise Keller

"Considering how many action film tends to cater for the lowest common denominator, Ronin is something of an anomaly. Exciting, tough, frenetic and also intellectual, this is one of those rare movies that almost seem as if they'd come from a bygone era. But then, it's John Frankenheimer at the helm, and he brings something old-fashioned and genuinely exciting to a familiar genre. Ronin is exotic in terms of its locale, contains a group of neatly-etched characters who are often not what they seem, involved in one of the most spellbinding cat and mouse games of recent memory. The film's plot is almost irrelevant, and even the object of the exercise - to retrieve this mysterious briefcase- seems irrelevant. Frankenheimer and his writers [including David Mamet under a pseudonym] are not so much interested in the end result here, but how one gets there. There's plenty of deception and subterfuge crackling along at breakneck speed, building to a thrilling crescendo. Even the film's climcatic car chase has been shot and cut in order to immerse the audience in the action; it's the most thrilling car chase since The French Connection. Tinged with a dry humour, the performances are top notch. De Niro excels, giving his cold killer some wonderful humanity, while France's Jean Reno is a delight. Ronin is an action film for intelligent audiences, escapist entertainment with wit and depth."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Robert de Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgard, Natascha McElhone, Sean Bean, Skipp Sudduth, Michael Lonsdale, Jan Triska

DIRECTOR: John Frankenheimer

PRODUCER: Frank Mancuso jnr

SCRIPT: J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz


EDITOR: Tony Gibbs ACE

MUSIC: Elia Smiral


RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: August 10, 1999


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