Ronin (15)

Directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgard, Natascha McElhone, Sean Bean

All action film as De Niro and co play a group of mercenaries trying to get a mysterious case for McElhone and her Irish contacts. The film involves lots of running and chasing around France for little apparent reason and is ultimately rather pointless.
The group's initial meeting is characterised by the usual pissing contest between a bunch of overly macho guys, resulting in Sean Bean's early exit. Why was he there? Then its onto Nice, and the prolonged set up for the stealing of the case. Then when that goes wrong, we have more chasing around to get it back, involving ice skater Katerina Witt, Jonathon Pryce and other assorted and very stereotyped bad guys. Not one, but TWO extended car chases, well if they like one, they'll love two!
A sloppy and badly plotted script that rambles around, and introduces characters almost as fast as it kills them off, this film is only held together by tight direction, and a cast of classy actors. I have never been a De Niro fan to be honest. He stands with a blank expression on his face and everyone marvels at his control?! He is going through the motions in this film, and doesn't look entirely comfortable. Reno and Skarsgard are two of the best European actors working in Hollywood right now, and they both are excellent. The Brits, Bean and McElhone are minor players among the heavyweight, Bean scarpering fast, and McElhone and unlikely love interest. France looks lovely- onto a winner there Frankenheimer, but this is such a waste of talent and a poor story. It will be better remembered as the film De Niro was shooting when he got arrested in France for allegedly using the services of prostitutes I think. He has vowed not to return to France, so I guess Ronin has a lot to answer for if you are a French De Niro fan. 4/10

November 1998

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