why Cranky is in pain
Reviews since 1993:  A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do     Contact    Search the Site


Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
Grand Budapest Hotel
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop

Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

ronin poster

Ronin

Starring Robert De Niro;
Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Jonathan Pryce
Written by J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Website: www.mgmua.com/ronin/

IN SHORT: A great car chase in search of a story.

Ronin must've sounded great in the pitch session: A group of five mercenaries, strangers to each other, are teamed to steal a heavily guarded briefcase. They don't know what is in the case. They don't know who is transporting the case or why. They don't know who their employers are, or where all the money is coming from. Every question they ask is answered with a "you don't need to know" from the lips of a tight jawed Irish woman named Deirdre (Natascha McElhone). It's the ultimate mystery.

And Cranky is just fool enough to sit through it waiting for the revelation of who and why, which never comes.

Ronin, if you haven't picked it up from the publicity, is a Japanese term for Samurai warriors who are disgraced for failing to protect their Masters. They wandered Japan as mercenaries or thieves if they didn't have enough sense of honor to kill themselves for their failure. The modern day Ronin are ex-spies (CIA, KGB, etc.) who need the work and don't ask questions. Set in Paris, Nice and various countryside French towns, this action flick nicely utilizes the narrow roads for several intricately choreographed car chases leading to the capture of the briefcase. Betrayed from within, the movie becomes a search for answers as our heroes Sam (Robert DeNiro) and Vincent (Jean Reno) bond as teammates to recapture the case and discover the whys and wherefores of their assignment. It sounds like a good idea -- heck, it sounds like a low tech Mission Impossible -- but in between car chases, Ronin falls completely apart.

One of the most important lessons Cranky learned in screenwriting classes in film school was the anagram criticism HDTK? -- How Do They Know? If Cranky had proofed a copy of the screenplay by J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz, big red HDTK's would have been all over the place. For the first hour, enough mystery is maintained that you think Ronin is leading you to a big revelation. The problem is that characters pop up from nowhere, deliver vital plot information (the source of which is never hinted at) and then vanish. There are continuing references to a man in a wheelchair, who never materializes. Team members whose actions become important to the story are about as developed as a dried up watermelon pit. One character is wrapped in high tech looking computer equipment, tracking the movements of the target through means badly explained -- it's something to do with a cell phone -- and technologically unknown. One character is established strongly enough that, when he disappears from the story, you know he's going to come back by the end. But he doesn't. There's more, but it would take much too much effort to get it down on paper. Ronin is a primo example of sloppy writing and it's not worth your time.

To illustrate: at one point one of the members of the team is wounded, a Teflon coated bullet having penetrated his body armor. Another teammate brings him to a house in the country, where a mystery man named Jean-Pierre has a full set of medical tools and surgical gear. Why? We don't know. We do discover that Jean-Perre does not know how to use this gear, as the wounded spy must give instruction as to how to conduct the necessary surgery. Cranky didn't believe it. The audience laughed at it. You'll find it a waste of time; just one among many.

Cranky would provide a list, as he did in the Armageddon review, of everything that caught his eye, but I was too damn busy trying to figure out a sense of what was going on. Who is Jean-Pierre, other than a friend of Vincent's? We never know. How does he find one Irish couple and a German in the midst of a metropolis like Paris? We never find out. There are Russians and Irishmen and men who vomit. Experienced spies walk into ambushes. Ice Skater Katarina Witt is assassinated. The French Post Office delivers a vital package. A romantic subplot between De Niro and McElhone doesn't exist in the script, yet plays a important part in the climax and epilog. Yecch.

Cranky asked at least a dozen people, on the way out of the theater, if they had any idea what Ronin was about. Not a single one did.

Everyone liked the car chases, though half the sample thought they ran on too long.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Ronin, he would have paid...

$3.00

Feh. A feeble attempt to explain what's really happened at the end of the flick is just that. Feeble.


buy movie posters
The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2014   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.