Ronin is the Japanese word used for Samurai without a master. In this case, the Ronin are outcast specialists of every kind, whose services are available to everyone - for money. Dierdre (undoubtedly from Ireland) hires several Ronin to form a team in order to retrieve an important suitcase from a man who is about to sell it to the Russians. After the mission has been completed successfully, the suitcase immediately gets switched by a member of the team who seems to work into his own pocket. The complex net of everyone tricking everyone begins to surface slowly, and deadly... Written by
Julian Reischl <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A throwback to old-style espionage thrillers, with an unexplained plot but plenty of enjoyable action.
Watching Ronin is like going 25 years back in time. The European locations, the cold and cynical characters, the deliberately ambiguous and serpentine plot, the car chases, the treachery.... all these are the standard ingredients of those twisty spy flicks that were ten-a-penny in the late '60s and early '70s. And who better to direct this retro-thriller than John Frankenheimer, the man behind such genre masterpieces as The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days In May?
A group of mercenaries gather in a Parisian warehouse. They don't know each other, and they don't particularly know why they've been summoned.... other than the fact that they're about to be offered a job worth a considerable amount of money. Among the group is Sam (Robert De Niro), an American "ronin" (the name once given to masterless Japanese samurai-warriors who used to wander across the land offering themselves as hired swords). Others include Frenchman Vincent (Jean Reno), English weapons expert Spence (Sean Bean), East European electronics specialist Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard) and ace driver Larry (Skip Sudduth). The team has been brought together by Irish revolutionary Deidre (Natascha McElhone), who eventually reveals to them that their task is to get hold of a mysterious silver briefcase. They are not told what is in the briefcase, merely that if they want to get their hands on their money then they must steal the said briefcase from a team of ruthless agents currently guarding it.
Throughout its running time Ronin keeps its plot very secretive (even at the end we never learn WHAT was actually in the briefcase). In some ways, this makes the story intriguing but it also causes a certain degree of dissatisfaction as many of the loose ends are still left untied as the final credits roll. De Niro gives a game performance as the morally complex "hero", and Reno backs him up splendidly in yet another of his charismatic, slightly villainous roles. The big revelation is McElhone, a relative newcomer, who holds her own with all these powerhouse stars without looking at all daunted. The action is excitingly shot, especially the film's regular car chases and shootouts. It's nice to see genuinely hair-raising stunt work being used to achieve the effectiveness of these action sequences, as opposed to the usual '90s dependency on digital trickery. Check out also the amazing scene in which De Niro has to cut a bullet from his own stomach, using a mirror and a sharp knife! While Ronin might be a throwback to the films of yesteryear, with a story every bit as murky and "cloak-and-dagger" as the old films it resembles, it still comes across as an enjoyable and pacy piece of entertainment.
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