Ronin Review


An evocative title, with De Niro and Reno leading the way. An Audi S8 tearing through Paris, and a motley crew of characters with murky pasts and clashing motives. Ronin is a very cool film.

Ronin focuses on a team of mercenaries tasked with stealing a mysterious briefcase. Their backgrounds are questionable, with most of them carrying a general twitchiness that’s perfect for creating tension. De Niro and Reno’s characters stand out due to their unruffled natures, calmly and consistently displaying that they’ve been around the block a few times. De Niro continues to impress, and only partly because he’s wearing a turtle neck.

I’ve long had a fondness for cars and guns. Who doesn’t love some pew pew and zoom zoom? But it’s deeper than that for me. I see a beauty in the engineering, and Ronin covers both heavily. It’s set in France, so of course there are plenty of Peugeots and Citroens, but they also sneak in the aforementioned Audi, plus a Mercedes. The weaponry is less standard, with everything from the FN MINIMI-Para Mk2, through to the sweet M1911141 Series 80 making an appearance.

Side note, if you’re at all interested in such things you should check out the IMFD. Just don’t blame me when you spend far too much time reading about very obscure weapons.

Moving on from my mechanical love-in, I’m struck by how unafraid Ronin is of showing collateral damage. Do not be a bystander in this film! Plenty are shown being injured and killed throughout Ronin. The characters exist in a morally grey world, and their actions have consequences. Sure it’s all very cool, but it’s never glorified.

Before I get onto the other thing this film does well, I have to mention how bad the the clearly fake blood is. It’s far too bright, which really distracts when it pops up.

If you don’t mind I’m going to pass out.

Great quote from De Niro’s Sam, who promptly passes out!

You’ll quickly forget about that when the cars start moving though. With cameras on the bumpers and some amazing stunt work to put the actors front and centre, the car chases are a treat. Cars that should be doing the school run or be loaded with shopping are pushed to their limit in purposely imperfect fashion. Fast. visceral, and brutal, watching these cars zip along tight streets makes for some thrilling cinema and some of the best chases put to film.

Some slightly iffy accents aside, the cast of thieves is mysterious and entertaining. They are Ronin – master-less Samurai – and there is an honour to them. So seeing them form bonds among themselves seems reasonable as they share experiences and double-crosses. De Niro’s Sam doesn’t say much to Reno’s Vincent, but we know that there’s something there. Nowadays they’d get a spin-off or sure. Get the de-ageing tech out!

With a taut, well told story and interesting characters, I’ll say it again; Ronin is a very cool film.

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