RoninSeptember 25, 1998
A freelancing former US intelligence agent tries to track down a mysterious package that is wanted by both the Irish and the Russians.
Release Year: 1998
Rating: 7.2/10 (78,408 voted)
Critic's Score: 67/100
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone
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…
Writers: J.D. Zeik, J.D. Zeik
Robert De Niro
Man with the Newspaper
Clown Ice Skater
Clown Ice Skater
Loyalty is bought, betrayal is a way of life…
Release Date: 25 September 1998
Filming Locations: Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $12,697,641
(27 September 1998)
(14 February 1999)
Did You Know?
80 automobiles were destroyed during filming.
At the Roman coliseum at Arles, Vincent is surprised by the Russian, Sergi, who recognizes him from some past action. As Vincent replies 'Vienna' Sergi's gun arm is already straight but in the next scene it has changed position and is bent at the elbow.
Either you're part of the problem or you're part of the solution or you're just part of the landscape.
John Frankenheimer didn't have a lot of credibility in his last few
years. His final film was the rather crap Reindeer Games, with Ben
Affleck, and in 1996 he gave us the utterly terrible Island Of Doctor
Moreau. However, he did do Ronin in 1998, which makes up for absolutely
It is a detachment from glossy, MTV-directed, Hollywood action movies.
If you want trash, like Bad Boys 2, then this isn't for you. Ronin
returns to the gritty, rustic and deadly serious actioners of the
Seventies, much like Frankenheimer's own French Connection 2.
The title refers to Samurai warriors in ancient Japan who were left
with no cause, or purpose, if their master was killed. They'd roam the
countryside, pretending to be thieves, beggars, even madmen and hiring
their skills out to the highest bidder. Much like the lost, wandering
freelancers that make up our cast of characters.
Robert De Niro is Sam, an ex-CIA agent (or is he?), who bands together
with a ragtag group of similar ex-spies for a "no questions asked" job
with what appears to be the IRA. First we have Vincent (the wonderful
Jean Reno), as a French agent who knows where to find just about
anything you want. Spence (Sean Bean) is a gung-ho SAS dropout who is
waaaaay out of his depth and ends up jeopardising the whole mission.
Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard), an ex-KGB spy who knows his gadgets and
another American called Larry (who is rather disposable). All of these
men are led by Deirdre (Natascha McElhone), a young Irish woman who
answers to Seamus O'Rourke (Jonathan Price), an IRA boss who is in a
lot of trouble with his superiors.
Still with me? No? Well I'm gonna continue anyway. The group's mission
is to steal a metallic briefcase from the Russian Mafia. The contents
of this case are a mystery; all we know is that a lot of people are
willing to pay mucho plento to get their hands on it.
As if the set-up wasn't tenuous enough, there is immediately too much
suspicion within the group to bear. And the already complicated plot is
thrown into endless chaos as double-crosses, double-double-crosses,
secrets and lies screw things up in a big, big way.
It sounds tough going, but it's not really. I'll admit I didn't really
like Ronin when I first saw it (or the second or third for that
matter), but it's one of those movies that creeps back on you.
Frankenheimer's direction is so flawless and masterful that every frame
of every scene flows effortlessly The acting is so well rehearsed and
the cast so well chosen that even in every gesture, idiosyncrasy and
subtle glance you can read into the characters's hidden motives. It
takes a good number of viewings to decipher Ronin, but when the story
is this well done, who cares? Since its release there have been few
action films that have come close to its intensity. Some, like Bourne
Identity/Supremacy try to emulate its bleak tone, but don't match up.
Supremacy has a car chase that was desperate to beat Ronin's, but is
far too flashy.
That's also the ace up it's sleeve. About 80 minutes into the film, the
second car chase is a juggernaut of film-making. Never before and
probably never again for a long, long time, has there been a car chase
so completely mental. No Michael Bay 1000 cuts a second, no
slow-motion, no stunts silhouetted against the sunset, just sheer,
relentless adrenaline, as DeNiro and Reno tear up the streets of Paris.
It's the centrepiece of the movie and a perfect example of what REAL
action film-making is.
Elia Cmiral's score is the other utterly perfect aspect of the movie.
Simultaneously lonely, seductive and mysterious, it surely is one of
the best themes ever and anyone with sense would go out and buy the
soundtrack CD right away.
Ronin is perfection from beginning to end, from Frankenheimer's strong,
imposing direction to David Mamet's script, riddled with cryptic
dialogue and double-meanings.
No one can deny Ronin's importance as a real action picture. No one can
watch crap like xXx, or 6 Fast 6 Furious, and claim Ronin to be a bad
movie. It has enough, maybe too much, integrity and intelligence to
shame anything that comes even halfway close. If you're sick of action
flicks, or films in general, where the audience just sits there
passively and is fed information, then Ronin is the cure.
It may sound like a bizarre comparison, but it's on par with Lost
Highway, as one of those movies you have to figure out in your own damn