Ronin is one of the few action movies that I can chew on without having to regurgitate. Normally, the action film fills me with a sort of dread. In fact, per my recollection, Ronin filled me with a sort of dread the first time around (despite Robert De Niro being in the film). You see, the action film is a sort of black hole for the industry. Money gets sucked into the film but it passes a sort of Event Horizon, at which point no matter how much money is poured in, the movie is still terrible. Sure, it is so absolutely dumb that you can sit back and enjoy it anyway, but the fact of the matter is that by the time the action movie has passed this point of no return you know you are watching trash.
Every year, millions get sucked into this vortex and all we get out of it are surgically enhanced chest shots of women who have just been bumped up from doing soft core. Of the three dozen odd action flicks that come out in any given year, only ten are worth viewing again. Of those ten, only two or three are actually good films. Ronin was actually good.
Mind you, I am not saying that it was good for an action movie. I'm saying that Ronin was good. Period. As I have said before, I do not grade on a curve.
So two years after theatrical release, and about ten hours after finishing the DVD, I still am able to only pawn off one-liners that say that Ronin rocks. Ronin is so fast that it makes Speed look like a little kid on a scooter.
Since I still haven't explained why Ronin rocks or what the hell Ronin is about, I should probably do so now. Director John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate) has proven himself to be a master of the spy-action flick. Robert De Niro has proven to be a master for character acting. Jean Reno has proved himself to be a master of intelligent action flicks, Godzilla notwithstanding. So, when three masters work together to create a thriller about a bunch of ex-spy mercenaries going trying to steal a case is it any surprise that the film rocks?
Of course, if they just stole the case and got it done with, the film wouldn't be much fun. So, there are a few double crosses along the way, and about a dozen plot twists.
But just because Ronin rocks, doesn't mean its perfect.
I wish I could say that Ronin didn't pretend to be anything more than a great action film. Instead, it pretends to be overly intelligent. Don't get me wrong, Ronin is smart, but not intelligent. It's a movie whose main characters shoot innocent people left and right... these aren't the right people to have moralize. Yet scriptwriters such as J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz take such a simple film as Ronin and insert a message to it. The result is that Ronin is an hour and a half of good film with a half out of extra plot that should have been left on the editing room floor.
Still, Ronin's action scenes are top-notch, it's acting is great, and, for the last damn time, Ronin rocks.
You talkin' to my poster?