Ronin Cover Crime. Car chases. France. De niro. Plus Reno. That’s all you really need to know about this 121 minute movie made in 1998. Well, that, and that it's also been brought to you by the Director: John Frankenheimer; with the aforementioned Actors: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, with Natascha McElhone. Now get on out of my facebook before I give you a bloody good bashing.


'Simple' Deidre (Natascha McElhone) said to herself. 'All I have to do is hire five known mercenaries from different parts of the globe, and then instruct them to snatch a suitcase from those evil Parisian gangsters' she continued. 'I mean. What could be more simpler than that?'.

But no. I'm afraid to say she was wrong, folks. Dead wrong. For a start Deidre ends up having to sack one of her own operatives -- called Spence (Sean Bean) -- because he falters when their initial outing goes astray. Then, when she comes to the realization that her plan needs a little bit more leg work, another member of her crew -- Sam (Robert De Niro) -- take it upon himself to do a bit more digging with her in toe. Plus finally, when their subsequent outings also gets brashly kicked to the curb by parties unknown, yet another one of her guys -- Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard) -- runs off with the suitcase she wanted in the first place.

Oh, dear! What in hell can Deidre do about this rather strange run of bad luck? Huh? Get her French ally, Vincent (Jean Reno), and the rest of her men to track down Gregor? Or what about if she contacts her secret benefactor, Seamus (Jonathan Pryce)? Maybe he can sort this mess out without having to kill anyon... BANG!

Ops! Spoke too soon.

Yet again, that's most probably why what next transpires all comes into play when Sam and Vincent limp one way, whilst Deidre and Seamus go another. As cars drive over a lot of grating - patience is sometimes worth waiting - enemies contemplate speed-dating - and at the end of the day the face of mankind relies heavily on a girl who loves ice skating.

Now if I'm going to be absolutely honest with you, folks, I'm not a big fan of car-chase movies myself. I've often found them to be too superficial and vague in execution, whilst being too sparse in both content and design. 'But hey', I said to myself. '"Ronin" is directed by John Frankenheimer, written by David Mamet, and stars my all time favorite actor, Robert De Niro, plus Jean Reno to boot. So what could it hurt? Huh?'.

Ronin Starring Robert De Niro
Well, now that I've actually sat down and watched it... err... it did hurt a bit. Not much mind you. Because I did get a kick out of the basic premise behind this film (i.e. the concept of a nomadic mercenary trying to find a place for himself within society). And I also enjoyed following all of the actors involved as well.

As expected, De Niro was at his icy best. Filling up the screen with all of his De Niro-esque ways. Making Sam one stone heated son-of-a-b*tch with a mind of a database. Reno was a rather cool cat too. In fact, he was so cool, I bet you anything he has to sleep inside an oven just so he doesn't freeze his wife's giblets off.

As for the other supporting players on the other hand -- yeah -- they were OK I suppose. Natascha plays a pretty decent nervous lady with a rather dodgy Irish accent. Price plays a dazzling yet smarmy bad-guy to a tea. Stellan plays a scary and sullen turn-coat without even breaking a sweat. Sean plays the Brit who's a bit of a git. Plus Skipp has a very funny name. All in all a great cast really. And if anything, needed more screen time because they were hindered from putting on a show due to the copious amounts of... groan... car chase scenes on offer.

De Niro and the gang in Ronin

Sexy Natascha McElhone in Ronin
Hey! Don't get me wrong. A car chase scene isn't a bad-bad thing within the scheme of things. Not one or two of them anyway. It’s just that sometimes I did feel they distracted from the overall plot, by replacing the conceptual narrative with a rapid visual that could be somewhat irritating on occasion. Benign even. And who needs a rapid visual if you have the likes of Natascha or De Niro? Right, folks? Here. Look at the facts: (1) 'United Artists' first screened this $55 million dollar production at the 'Venice Film Festival' on the 25th of September, 1998, and clawed back $70 million dollars at the box office. (2) 'Ronin' isn't only a ancient Japanese word meaning 'a Samurai without a master', but nowadays it's also the name of a student trying to pass a entrance-examination to progress in school. (3) Most of this movie was shot on location throughout the French counties of Paris, Bouches-de-Rhone, and Alpes-Martimes. In Bouches-de-Rhone you might have notice Arles and Les Baux-de-Provence. In Paris you might have notice Rue de Trois-Freres, Point Alexandre III, Port des Lilas, and Rue Drevet. Plus in Alpes-Martimes you might have notice Cannes, La Turbie, Le Zenith, Nice, and Villefranche-sur-Mer. (4) The total body count for this movie was 34, and 80 cars were destroyed during production. (5) One of the stunt drivers hired for this film was the Formula 1 champion, Jean-Pierre Jarier. (6) Unlike the rest of the actors in this movie, Skipp performed all of his stunt driving scenes himself. (7) David Mamet worked on this film as a script doctor, and re-wrote the majority of the screenplay based on the original works of J.D. Zeik. However, after the film came out, Mamet refused to share writing credits, and had his name taken off of the movie, completely. (8) Katarina Witt, who played the figure skater in this project, has won two Olympic medals and four championship medals in this field. (9) The porn star, Ron Jeremy, had a small cameo in this movie, yet he was cut out of it by the studio. (10) A stuntman injured himself in the scene where Sam chased Gregor around the arena. Don't worry though. He still lived.

Jean Reno in Ronin

Overall 'Ronin' was a pretty decent film. Not marvelous. Decent. The story was a good one. The actors did the best they could with what they had at hand. And the only thing in my eyes that let it down, were...

Sigh! The over abundant car chase scenes. Nuff said.