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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Ronin

Starring: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno
Director: John Frankenheimer
Rated: R
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: September 1998
Genres: Action, Suspense, Thriller

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Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Despite the pretentious opening statement which informs us: "In feudal Japan, the warrior class of samurai were sworn to protect their liege lords with their lives. Those samurai whose liege was killed suffered great shame and...were no longer referred to as samurai...such men were called Ronin," motor vehicle action is what obsesses director John Frankenheimer who, earlier in his career, helmed "Grand Prix" and "French Connection II." Set not in feudal Japan but in contemporary France, the characters are scruffy, cynical veterans of the Cold War who, after the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, have become mercenaries. They're hardly "The Magnificent Seven" or "The Dirty Dozen," but they'd like to be. There's Robert De Niro, an ex-CIA operative; Frenchman Jean Reno; an ex-KGB electronics and surveillance expert, Stellan Skarsgard; Sean Bean, a weapons whiz; and Skipp Sudduth, a hotshot driver. Recruited individually by Natascha McElhone, as a cool, close-mouth'd Irishwoman, they're assigned to steal a mysterious suitcase so that the Irish can have its contents before it's sold to a group of rich Russians. But what starts as a simple ambush-and-assault turns into a series of double-crosses and bloody betrayal, eventually leading them to an international ice show, where Katarina Witt is stalked by a sniper in a scene reminiscent of Frankenheimer's "The Manchurian Candidate." The complex and often confusing screenplay is by J.D. Zeik and "Richard Weisz", a pseudonym allegedly concocted by David Mamet because he did not want to share screen credit. And, worst of all, the film ends without ever coming to a satisfying conclusion. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Ronin" is a chaotic 6. It's car chases, stunts and carnage in search of a story.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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