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Ronin (1998)

I don't feel like I have much to say about this film. Not because it's bad by any means, but it seems to be an easily explainable film that is more or less straight forward and very well put together, yet it didn't blow me away or had multiple layers to talk about. It's a highly entertaining, well-orchestrated high-octane action thriller that does the job its been given almost to perfection. The film is filled with some nicely paced tension and calmer character moments handled by a competent director who admittedly hasn't kept up with time, which is the best and worst thing to say about this film.

I like how one critic put it... "Frankenheimer pretty much ignores everything that's happened in the action and thriller genres since 1975, and mostly that's a good thing." I would say that's spot on. 'Ronin' is a nice callback to the good old times of a simple set-up executed to great effect; a movie that's all about a simple plot device that everyone wants their hands on and off goes the plot with backstabbing, criminal master plans, foreign villains and what else can be crammed into this retro action homage. Usually I would call a film like this slick and elegant, if it's nicely executed, but 'Ronin' is a different kind of lone genre piece. The action is raw, gritty and not about filming car chases, but about following car chases. The camera is an accomplish in the plan and the actors are a player in plot - all of it feeling well balanced and never blown out of proportions.

The script does limp a little and admittedly doesn't appear as smart as it wants to be, partly because of the previous discussion of being stuck in a time where modern technology and expectations weren't on the same level. At times it even comes across as a little goofy or unintentionally amusing, but Frankenheimer clearly aims for a great ride and that 'Ronin' certainly is. This is certainly a great journey back to the barebone roots of the genre and most people should be able to at least admire that aspect of it, I would say.