Ronin (1998)

February 9th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

Post-Cold War France is the setting for this spy film about ex-spies trying to make a living now that no one needs them anymore. The title refers to masterless samurai who chose to continue as hired swords in feudal Japan.

Robert De Niro and Jean Reno make a pretty good team. The car chases are good, showing how much editing and intent can do to make a tired convention palatable. Compare and contrast these to the chase scene in Attack of the Clones, which manages to produce a dizzying and gut-wrenching special effects spectacle that leaves us with no sense of having traversed three dimensional space and no idea where anything is in relationship to anything else.

The basic plot involves a mysterious box our team of rootless spies has to retrieve, the IRA, Russian mafia bosses, and assorted betrayals. De Niro’s great as a world-weary ex-CIA operative, Natascha McElhone

(Solaris) is pretty good too.

You aren’t getting a timeless classic here, but there’s enough “clever spy stuff,” tough guy carrying on (De Niro’s character supervises the removal of a bullet from his own side), and atmospheric location to make it a decent enough ride. The early scenes devoted to assembling the team are especially fun.

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