Saturday, August 15, 2015

Zaki's Original Review: Ronin

First published: October 2, 1998
John Frankenheimer's Ronin hearkens back to the spy thrillers of a simpler time. Bereft of the high-tech gadgetry and '90s flavored espionage that has been so evident of recent spy movies, it instead weaves a complex (and convoluted) tapestry of danger, betrayal, and a seemingly unending stream of car chases.

Director Frankenheimer, pedigreed with politcial thrillers like The Manchurian Candidate, teaming with star Robert De Niro should have produced sensational results, but Ronin fails to overcome an incomprehensible plot, making it, much like spy-sibling Mission: Impossible, a flashy exercise in incoherence.

The story, by J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz (with an uncredited polish by the master of dialogue, David Mamet) details the hiring of a band of international spies, mercenaries, by the IRA to acquire a suitcase. De Niro is backed by an ensemble consisting of Stellan Skarsgård, Natascha McElhone, and Jean Reno, among others.

Although a visual feast, the plot is far too contrived. The film's lack of exposition is neatly sidestepped by the makers with Reno's character saying of the spy game, "There are never any questions, there are never any answers." Well, that's terrific if you're a spy, but for those of us in the audience, we're left in the dark and out in the cold. C

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