This week I’d like to celebrate one of our great American actors – Robert De Niro. Netflix has a slew of instant movies featuring De Niro including Ronin.
WATCH: Ronin (1998) – Rated R for strong violence and language.
“Director John Frankenheimer helmed this action thriller at full throttle. A briefcase with undisclosed contents — sought by Irish terrorists and the Russian mob — makes its way into criminals’ hands. An Irish liaison (Natascha McElhone) assembles a squad of mercenaries, or ronin, charged with the thorny task of recovering the case. But the team, led by an ex-CIA agent (Robert De Niro), mistrusts one another. Can they accomplish their mission?”
“You’re scared!” – “Of course I’m scared. You think I’m reluctant because I’m happy?”
Wow! I’d say that they don’t make action thrillers like this any more but the French still do (Taken is marvelous). Ronin is an exceptional thriller with REAL car chases. There are two very good car chases and one AMAZING car chase (Formula 1 driver Jean-Pierre Jarier was one of the drivers) in this film. No green screen, only practical effects, no spastic jump cuts, no inappropriately sped-up photography – this movie is a real throwback.
Director John Frankenheimer crafts a marvelous movie here. He strikes a good balance between action, acting and exposition. He was responsible for a slew of classic 60s and 70s thrillers including The Manchurian Candidate, Black Sunday, The Train and Seven Days in May. It is sad to say that he directed only one more feature film after this one – the execrable Reindeer Games.
The cast is wonderful. Robert De Niro dynamically plays an incredibly competent freelance operative and you can’t help but take him seriously through the whole film. Jean Reno does a good job of underplaying here and complements De Niro well. Natascha McElhone plays a very strong female – thankfully not your standard damsel in distress. The rest of the ensemble cast (Sean Bean, Stellan Skarsgard, and Skipp Sudduth) is excellent as are Michael Lonsdale and Jonathan Pryce in smaller roles.
Ronin is excellent and I highly recommend it if you enjoy an action thriller with some intelligence, good acting and character development.
People Watch: Yes that really is Olympic star Katarina Witt as Natacha.