All Praise is Due to John “The Man” Frankenheimer
I know it sometimes at times Team Ruthless can seem a bit snobby, what with our preference for obscure foreign films that run deep with philosophical implications. But the fact is, I love movies in which people are shot, preferably with rocket launchers. At least I love the idea of those movies, but the execution is usually deliberately stupid, so I’m too busy slapping my forehead in disbelief or derisively laughing, to enjoy the carnage.
That is why I like Ronin more because of what it doesn’t have than what it has. Ronin has plenty; great actors, amazing car chases, a cool setting (Paris,
Nice), a skilled director [Ed Note: The late, great John Frankenheimer]
and several people get shot, often by rocket launchers. There’s also a
twist at the end – not some cheeseball twist where it turns out that Good Guy is Bad Guy or anything Shayamalamadingdongish. Just something unexpected. What’s also cool about Ronin is that the title of the film is totally misleading.
But, again, what sets Ronin apart is what it doesn’t have, including:
- X-Ray goggles that can see through four foot thick lead walls, but not bras.
- The involvement of Jerry Bruckheimer. Rumor has it that
Frankenheimer kept the pig who played Babe on set at all times because it has a restraining order that held Bruckheimer at a safe distance.
- CG bullshit. By this, I mean CG where there should be no CG,
like in car chases [Ed Note: there is some really bad CG smoke when
Jean Reno backs up his Mercedes at the start of the first chase]. Or
like in Blade where they use CG to depict blood dripping from walls. WTF?
- Techno music. At least I don’t remember any.
- Heroes who can carry out firefights on crowded streets without endangering civilians. This is an awkward way of including something I liked – the deaths of innocent bystanders – on this list. This is part of a bigger thing that is happily missing from the film though: simplistic, moralistic BS.
- Scenes in which a small army of bad guys engage in hand
to hand combat with the hero, but instead of dog piling him, line up to
go one at a time like it was the Houston 500 [Ed Note: That would be more three at a time, no?].
- Dialogue like, “This time, it’s personal,” “You’re a dead man,” and “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
- Corny patriotism and/or ignorant, lowbrow potshots at the
frogs [Ed Note: Meaning the French. Actually, there is some patriatism
– when DeNiro tells Sean Bean that the 1911 “served my country well.”
However, unlike most movies, you have to be intelligent to understand
- Token minority characters.
- A stupid hook to pitch to studio execs, then to audiences
like, “he’s James Bond crossed with Tony Hawk,” or “the only weapon he uses is a mace.”
Etc. I don’t want to give the impression that Ronin is The Seven Samurai
or anything. It’s an action movie, complete with implausibility and
plot holes. And now that I think back, one character does say, “you’re
a dead man.” But these flaws are pretty minimal and, more importantly,
irrelevant to Ronin being an excellent genre film. In other
words, the filmmakers are not actively insulting the intelligence of
the audience. No wonder this film didn’t make any money.
Special Ruthless Ratings
- Number of times the movie was paused to do something else: 1
- Number of times the annoying soundtrack made you reach for your rocket launcher: 0
- Number of karate kicks from people who obviously don’t know karate: 0
- Number of moral lessons: 0