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Ronin
1998 - R - 121 Mins.
Director: John Frankenheimer
Written By: J. D. Zeik
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce, Natasha McElhone
Review by: John Ulmer
   
"Ronin" is the Japanese word for a Samurai whose master has been killed, and who has been disgraced by this. He roams around the land, looking for hired work. All the men who gather together in John Frankenheimer's "Ronin" could be called, in fact, Ronin. There's Sam (Robert De Niro), who we suspect is ex-CIA, and who is definitely brilliant. There's Jean-Pierre (Jean Reno, from "The Professional"), who we don't know a whole lot about, Larry, a vehicle expert and driver extraordinare, and a few other men, including Sean Bean as a weapons expert.

In the beginning of the film, we see all the men join together in an abandoned warehouse, where they are given an assignment by a mysterious woman. She explains that their target is a briefcase, which is being carried by a group of people somewhere. She doesn't go into detail, she just tells them she wants the briefcase.

They setup the heist. The day it happens, one of the team members takes the briefcase and runs off with it. Larry is wounded. So Sam and Jean-Pierre try to find the man who took the case, but when they do, only more chaos ensues. Everyone starts turning their back on the other members of the team; the head of the team leaves Sam and Jean-Pierre in the dust, without payment. Using their expertise(s), they must find the briefcase, get their payment, and teach everyone a lesson. It sounds simple, but it isn't quite as simply as it seems.

"Ronin" is a smart action film in a long line of stupid action films. In fact, to call it an action film is really dishonoring it. It's more of a thriller with streaks of action in it. There's a tremendous car chase, some great shootouts, but the film never loses its credibility.

Sam is a pro at the game; it only makes the audience think he is ex-CIA even more. During a weapons trade, he spots a sniper on a bridge and using tactics takes out all the baddies. He uses a lot of stealth techniques, a lot of mind techniques, and it's much more than a slam-bam action thriller where they good guys go in with guns firing and manage to dodge the baddies' bullets. Sam even gets shot by a richochet bullet in one scene, and the operation to retrieve it from the side of his waist is almost gruelling to watch, but John Frankenheimer knows when to pull the camera away, then back on the operation again.

Frankenheimer is the man responsible for "Seconds," an old 60s thriller about a man who staged his own death and had plastic surgery to transform into a new man. The film was eerie, deeply disturbing and chilling. "Ronin" isn't disturbing, eerie, or chilling, but the solid sense of direction is still there.

"Ronin" is worth taking a look at. Robert De Niro remains one of the top actors in Hollywood, and films like this show it.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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