September 25, 1998. Theatre #1 at Loew's. 12:10pm. 80-90 folks. Small theatre. I told the manager that he needed to shift this movie to a larger venue because "Ronin" will be a box office hit. I am always trying to help others. He thanked me. I think the manager at Loew's likes me because he thinks that my patronage is important to his pension and profit sharing plan.
What in the world is Robert De Niro doing in a movie like this - you ask yourself. Because its one of the most thoughtful, fun, and exciting guns and bombs movie in a long time and Bobby knew it. This flick is a combination of Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," a James Bond movie, and a good episode of "Mission Impossible" with a couple of car chases worthy of Steve McQueen in "Bullit". I am getting all mushy just thinking about it.
De Niro (Sam) plays a worn out CIA guy who is hired to do a job for reasons unknown, but he needs the money. He is hooked up with a rag-tag group of other KGB types that are seemingly out of work and are willing to be a "Ronin" which is according to Japanese tradition is a former samurai warrior who is out on his own because his master has died. Sam's main partner is Vincent the French guy played by Jean Reno. The head of the group is Dierdre, an Irish gal that knows how to use a weapon and manipulate men to accomplish the very dangerous task of ambushing a 2-3 car caravan and capturing a suitcase type container before the Russians buy or steal it. What's in the case? That's part of the fun and why they call it "action suspense." The movie takes place in various parts of France and on the very narrow streets of Europe.
Casting was a cinch for this movie. Let's get De Niro and make sure the lines in his face are not touched up and that he always has a two day growth and get Jean Reno for the weird French flare and throw in Natascha McElhone (Dierdre) for long legs and golden blond hair and keep it moving and provide only enough hints to the story so the viewer will have to think and wish for a program that would help keep up with all the characters, plots, and double crosses.
Sam's favorite gun was a "1911 style ....45 caliber" pistol and miscellaneous anti-tank weapons that blow up cars and stuff. High marks for guns and bombs. Director John Frankenheimer has produced an action movie that does not rely heavily on special effects, but rather an actor's glance or stare with sound contrasts that go from loud explosions to a quick cut to a singing choir. Camera positions were Hitchcockian. The story is interesting the entire 121 minutes. Rock 'n Roll.