RONIN (1998)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Starring: Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Sean Bean (of 006 fame), and Jonathan Pryce.

Rated "R" (Violence and language) Running time: 121 minutes

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Most people will come to this film because of DeNiro, and he is good, but I wanted to see this film because I am fascinated by the actor Jean Reno. You may remember him as the professional hitman in the movie, "The Profession" or as the charming cop who tries to keep Kevin Kline's character, Luc, on the straight and narrow path in "French Kiss." He is an amazing character actor and when teamed with the likes of Robert DeNiro, what can I say?

RONIN is usually classified as an action film first, a crime drama or thriller second. I think that does a disservice to the film in that while there is action, yes, it isn't the kind of action an "action picture" usually relies upon. The action here is gritty and real in a way that most films of this genre would overplay or supercharge. Bullets fly, car tires screech, bad guys shoot up this and that, but you get a sense that these guys aren't doing it because it's fun or because it's macho. It's their job. They take their job seriously and sometimes they get into situations where, if they want to live much longer, they have to shoot their way out.

The basic premise is that a group of freelance intelligence agents/mercenaries are going to work together to steal a silver suitcase. They have been hired by someone whose identity they do not know, to steal a specific item (the silver suitcase) without knowing what is inside. A sense of uneasiness grows as the men become edgy, waiting for final instructions. As complications arise, and confusion sets in, there is a mad scramble to figure out what is going on and who is doing what. A double cross sets things on an even more destructive path than one might have imagined.

This movie was well worth watching and I highly recommend it.


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