Friday, October 3, 2014

Ronin (1998)

Robert De Niro Film Fest Movie #12 (Hmm….it’s also turning into a Jonathan Pryce film fest. J.P. was the star of Brazil)

Synopsis: it’s basically two hours of high speed car chases through narrow urban streets in France, punctuated with De Niro spouting smug wisecracks. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “in a world where loyalties are abandoned and allegiances can be bought, a new and deadlier terrorist threat has emerged – free agent killers!” 

What Did I Learn?: 1) “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt” is Lesson Number One. 2) “I don’t remember” is Lesson Number Two. 3) “No questions. No answers. That's the business we're in. You just accept it and move on” is Lesson Number Three. 4) “Either you're part of the problem or you're part of the solution or you're just part of the landscape.” 5) “Everyone's your brother until the rent comes due.” 6) “The map is not the territory.”


Really?: 1) I had a hard time believing De Niro and Stellan Skarsgard could absorb that much punishment at the Roman ruins, and then run after each other like Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis in their prime. 2) The movie makes a plot point out of the fact that Gregor doesn’t have time to find an exact duplicate of the case, but come on – is it that hard to find a similar-looking stainless steel camera case? Is spray-painting a black case really going to fool anyone?

Rating: Ronin is an intelligent, compelling, and otherwise top-notch spy thriller. The movie features a great cast, and one of the most exciting car chases since To Live and Die in LA. Frankly, I’d love to see the 007 franchise use Ronin as a model for future films. My only complaints would be that De Niro’s witticisms get a little annoying, there’s a revolving door of villains, and Ronin is about 20 minutes too long. Still, highly recommended. 9/10 stars.

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