24th June 1999
Director: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce
Ronin were ancient Japanese warriors, hence the name of this flick, about five modern-day Ronin - a group of mercenaries left over from the Cold War, for hire to the highest bidder. They are gathered together in Paris for a mysterious and dangerous job - to steal a top-secret briefcase. Needless to say, things donít go exactly according to plan, and other agencies and operatives muscle in for a slice of the action. No-one knows who to trust and events spiral out of control to a dramatic climax.
Ronin is good, old-fashioned action/thriller fun. In fact, itís extremely old-fashioned, being very reminiscent of those old thrillers from the seventies. Come to think of it, Iím pretty sure that the director of this one, John Frankenheimer, was also behind half of those. Thereís even a convincing Cold War-era sense of paranoia and mistrust conveyed. The action is solid, with some excellent set pieces, including one of the best car chases seen on screen since the heyday of Bullitt. Robert De Niro looks cool in his inimitable De Niro-type way, and thereís good support from Hollywoodís favourite Frenchman, Jean Reno (he of Mission:Impossible, Leon and many more).
It doesnít have mind-bending special effects and the storyline isnít the most original in the history of the world, but Ronin is fine for what it is - a good, solid, traditional thriller, taking its cues from the days back then when men were men and shirt collars were enormous. (3)