Ronin (1998)

ronin poster 1998 movie robert de niro
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visual: 9/10

Solid action

Action might bore people who don't like action films, bad Irish accents

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Ronin

Studio:   FGM Entertainment

Genre(s):   Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  September 12, 1998 (Venice Film Festival)/September 25, 1998 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

ronin picture scene robert de niro natascha mcelhone

Awkward picture taking

A woman named Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) has assembled a team for a mission…intercept and obtain a package being carried in a convoy. While Sam (Robert De Niro) is suspicious of the set-up, he takes the job and finds himself teamed with Vincent (Jean Reno), Spence (Sean Bean), Gregor (Stellan Skarsgård), and Larry (Skipp Sudduth). When the mission goes sideways, Sam must complete the mission and capture the package…and he might need help.

Directed by John Frankenheimer, Ronin is an action-drama. The movie features a script by J.D. Zeik and David Mamet (who wrote under the name Richard Weisz) and was positively received by critics.

Ronin always just slipped by me. I had heard good things about it and knew it was known for its car chase scenes, but I never saw it. Watching it past its popularity reign, Ronin still holds up and is the flipside to typical action-adventure films. A ******spoiler alert******* is in effect for the rest of the review.

ronin car chase robert de niro jean reno

Car chases…lots of car chases…

A regular action film has heroes, but Ronin has no heroes. While leads normally valiantly spare the life of bystanders, De Niro and the crew intentionally ambush the transport in a crowded town center…leading to countless innocent lives lost. The loss of life is treated rather coldly and actually more realistically in that sense. It is especially dark considering the ending information about De Niro’s character and the actuality that he’s acting under operative orders (and everyone who dies is collateral damage to his real mission.

De Niro is good in the role, and it makes me wish for “old” De Niro again. In recent years, he’s made some really bad choices and it is always good to see him in a movie that reminds you what he can be. Jean Reno is also a solid back-up for De Niro and I was happy to see Sean Bean dropped relatively quickly since I’m not a big fan of his work. Natascha McElhone and Jonathan Pryce give some of the worst Irish accents on film.

ronin jonathan pryce stellan skarsgard jonathan pryce

Hey…all I said was your Irish accent could take some work!

Ronin received acclaim for the multiple chase sequences in the film. They are very good and (unlike a lot of movies) they are easy to follow and very thought out. This combines with a nice look at Paris and the French countryside. Action often just falls apart, but Ronin keeps it going.

Ronin is a solid action film that has held up over the years. Most of the visuals aren’t computer generated and that always helps to keep a movie from dating. If you like solid and relatively smart action films, Ronin is worth checking out…but if you get bored by car chases and gunfights, I don’t know that the drama of the movie will hold you.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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