Written by: David Mamet (writing as Richard Weisz) and J.D. Zeik, based on a story by J.D. Zeik
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd, Jonathan Pryce
My Advice: Rent it.
Ronin begins with a definition of the title (in a really crappy font, nonetheless). For those who don’t know, a ronin is a masterless samurai. My first thought was that the film was beginning in a deficit. “Why explain the title up front? Why not have it explained during the course of the movie?” To my great chagrin, they did explain it again, I guess for those that were busy at the concession stand and missed the opening of the film. That’s pretty much indicative of the rest of the film, I fear.
The call goes out from Deirdre (McElhone). She needs people to go and grab a mysterious case which apparently contains the soul of Seamus (Pryce). I’m kidding. Who shows up? A cool and collected bunch of mercenaries, and Sam (DeNiro), an American former CIA agent, becomes their impromptu leader. Simple, right? Take a case away from some guy. Easy pickings, right? Well, not really.
They forgot that we, the audience, could think. The insulting double explanation aside, there’s a romantic element that was unnecessary and completely incredulous. There’s also a voice-over to close out the film, just in case you weren’t certain what you were supposed to take away with you when you walked to the parking lot. These detriments (I can’t quite call them elements) felt tacked on by a studio they’re so clumsy. They’re such glaringly silly mistakes, that I docked the film harshly–because it could have been so much better had they left it alone. Moments of fun, moments of testosterone, but that’s about it. Would look great on your TV at home.