Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ronin (1998)

Robert De Niro, Jean Reno et al drive quite fast around France after a shiny briefcase. Lots of people get killed. There's some ice-skating.

Post-Jackal/Mission Impossible, pre-Bourne Euro assassin thriller - this film has a '70s feel, and with a bit more steely nous than a typical Hollywood thriller, this film does seem to be the perfect stepping stone between the high octane, unbelievable and really quite sterile Mission Impossible and the existential, intellectual Bourne trilogy.

As with the aformentioned thrillers, there is interesting use of technology. There is use of mobile phones but not digital cameras and this does place the film (and the others mentioned) firmly in time and space - the different technologies used act as a marker that instantly takes us to a specific year.

I really like the use of the McGuffin of the shiny briefcase - in the end De Niro is not interested in the case itself, but the destined owner of said briefcase. Just like the stolen cash in Psycho, it is the red herring that lures the viewer into thinking this is a run of the mill thriller. However, we begin to realise as the film goes on that there is none of your bog standard 'explaining' scenes about what is within the case.

The scenes toward the end of the film at the ice rink echo Frankenheimer's 1962 classic The Manchurian Candidate - the big stadium and a sniper again forging a link between Ronin and previous thrillers. The European setting also reminded me of other similar thrillers, especially after reading an article in the December 2010 issue of Sight and Sound about the George Clooney assassin film The American.

Anyway, a really enjoyable romp with a satisfactory ending that doesn't insult the viewers' intelligence and well worth seeking out if you enjoyed Bourne et al.

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