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."
"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."
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COLD WARRIORS MAKE YOU THINK
SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES
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
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Fraisse
EDITOR: Tony Gibbs ACE
MUSIC: Elia Smiral
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Z. Hanan
RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 4,1999
VIDEO RELEASE: August 10, 1999
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video