I have fond memories of this movie and on rewatching after all these years it’s clear why I liked it so much.
Ronin is the story of a group of mercenaries who have no loyalty and just work for money. The original Ronin were Samurai in feudal times who lost their lord and were forced to wander the land looking for work.
Robert De Niro’s character, known only as Sam, and a team of shifty team members, take on a job in Paris to steal a briefcase from a target surrounded by a heavily armed security force. Sounds straightforward but these being mercenaries, the one rule they all follow is ‘trust no one.’
After the job goes badly and the case is stolen, the surviving members need to work out who betrayed them and retrieve the case so they can get paid.
There are two really outstanding elements of this film.
Firstly, DeNiro is superb as the sarcastic and experienced merc. In one scene he manages to go from the flip of a coffee cup to outing Sean Bean’s character as a liar within a matter of seconds. Unfortunately DeNiro is the only character we get to really know, as most are just expendable stereotypes. But on the flip side, this also works towards keeping the mercs mysterious, it’s just a shame that we don’t get to care a little more about them before they get a bullet in the head.
The second outstanding part of the movie is the amazing action during the car chase scenes. They even stand up to today’s modern efforts. Frankenheimer has managed to give a sense of the danger involved in the creation of such moments, which really helps bring a sense of real life peril to the movie.
Ronin has a great number of positives but is let down by an ending which screams of a lack of ideas. When the big bad guys go down, it’s a real letdown and comes off as lazy. However, the action is so exciting, it can be forgiven for a few mistakes.
A true underrated classic, with legendary action.