on September 25, 1998 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
   A group of international guns for hire are assembled in Paris by a shadowy operative to snatch an important briefcase. They're not told who's given them the mission nor what the briefcase contains. One of them, an American named Sam (Robert De Niro), is suspicious and establishes a sympathetic relationship with the group's French handler, Vincent (Jean Reno). The two reluctantly decide to complete their assignment. Naturally, things go wrong and nothing turns out as expected.
   "Ronin," which refers to samurai who have been left on their own after their masters have died--a weak analogy for Cold Warriors cut adrift after the end of the Cold War--is an idiotic chase movie that gets more ludicrous as it progresses. It may sound provocative but the screenplay is singularly farfetched. The group is told to be discreet but then indulges in violent behaviour that not only calls attention to their existence but seemingly kills off half the population of France in the process. And the police are never around as mayhem erupts and the bodies pile up. The give and take among the men and their Irish female contact (Natascha McElhone) results in a lot of aimless dialogue that adds nothing to the story. Rarely has exposition, including a long, gratuitous sequence of Sam being operated on for a bullet lodged in his side, been so unnecessary. By film's end, the plot collapses entirely, as if the filmmakers have just given up and decided to wrap up the movie, logic be damned.    Starring Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgard. Directed by John Frankenheimer. Written by J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz. Produced by Frank Mancuso Jr. A MGM release. Drama. Rated R for strong violence and some language. Running time: 121 min.
Tags: Starring Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgard, Directed by John Frankenheimer. Written by J.D. Zeik, Richard Weisz, Produced by Frank Mancuso Jr, MGM, Drama

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