Karl's Opinion Page

Ronin

Written 10/6/98

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ronin is a flick that should have succeeded, but didn't. It has an excellent cast, all of whom play their parts quite well, it obviously had a large budget, it is set in marvelous French countryside and cityscapes... but it doesn't work. The timing is all wrong. Some scenes take forever, and some don't last nearly long enough. For an action movie, pacing is important, and Ronin falls down at it so badly it takes a lot of the interest out. The action scenes took forever, and when an action scene (car chase, etc) is boring you, then someone did a poor scripting job.

It was not a waste of time, but many more enjoyable ways of spending time come to mind. A well-cast bit of mediocrity.

For Those Who Have Seen It

I didn't know who the actor playing the German ex-KGB person was, (Stellan Skarsgard) but he was brilliantly cast and his acting was incredible. The moment I saw him I said "He's a German." The rest of them were certainly up to par, though not amazing; De Niro, Sean Bean, Jean Reno, etc - they all kind of waltzed through it, though they are all good enough actors that they could put in little effort and still look good.

As I said above, the scenery was great, the plot was pretty good (though frankly it fell down a bit at the end - if De Niro was CIA, he would have had a much bigger resource base to capture the guy than one friend who could tap phones.), and frankly it has all the ingredients to be a good film. But the pacing! Lawzy! The action scenes took forever (after a few death-defying stunts, you realize that they just aren't gonna get hurt, and that's pretty much it for sitting on the edge of your seat), and some of the slow scenes were far, far too slow.

Oh, and if you are going to name a film Ronin, please do more than mention the story of the 47 Ronin in it - the name bugged me since the first preview I saw.

A few nice points in parting: Sean Bean's character being paid off, and just leaving. Some added realism there. Also, I loved the fact that they holed up with Michel Lonsdale, who had a stellar performance in many films but particularly Day of the Jackal.