Ronin 1998 ★★★½

First time watch. I managed to hold out from seeing Ronin, until they gave me a grasshopper.

This film can be seen as basically being a proto-Bourne thriller, with its bone-crunching immediacy, twisty-turny plot and duplicitous characters, silly MacGuffins and unspoken codes of honour. Or maybe a Melville film on fast-forward.
So, what have we here? We have an at home Bob DeNiro, some middle-aged character actors, and a not quite at home Natascha McElhone. Sean Bean's edgy interloper who has managed to blag a place on the crew and somehow doesn't end up dead. And you've gotta love Katarina Witt getting taken out by a sniper. All glued together by David Mamet's hard-bitten, slightly creaky dialogue. There are some cracking good lines, to be honest: "I just ambushed you with a cup of coffee!"
Nobody on set had the balls to correct DeNiro's pronunciation of Hereford though.

There is Mamet's usual examination of masculine competence, but really Ronin is all about the bitching gunfights and car chases at breakneck speed through Paris. I had heard that the chase scenes in this were good, and it was no lie. The scene where they are speeding through oncoming traffic is so intense that even Stellan Skarsgård in the passenger seat decides to do his seatbelt up 2/3rds of the way through. Phew.

"Wait, what's a grasshopper?"
"Let me see... two parts gin, one part brandy, one part creme de menthe..."

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