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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

The Show Biz Maven

Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge Ronin
Do Run, Run, Run...
Do Run, Run
Click to Enlarge Reviewed by Show Biz Maven

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Faites attention! You can almost inhale the yellow sticks of Gauloise cigarettes as you watch RONIN, a John Frankenheimer film set in France, starring Robert DeNiro as a gun for hire who, in the process of recovering a mysterious metallic suitcase, takes us on car chases familiar only to Mario Andretti.

Admittedly, your Show Biz Maven sat glued to her seat (due probably to the M&M's that had melted there) thinking that RONIN was really an I-MAX production where 3-D effects prevent you from dipping into your faux buttered popcorn. In this film, however, sleek Parisian boulevards shrink to skinny alleys, cars maul down passersby like stalking lions, fruit stalls are pureed, and no one obeys any traffic signals not that it matters since this is how things are in France anyway.

DeNiro captures your attention, as he's dark and brooding, and well, DeNiro. From his suspicious demeanor we gather that he is ready to embark upon a shady deal with strangers (ex-CIA? KGB? FBI?) in a Parisian bar. Is he running from the law? Are they? Laconically, as he lifts his wineglass, we know that he's acknowledging his team members of hired assassins. Call them "Ronin" referring to the ex-samurais of ancient times who somehow allowed their masters to be killed. Carrying this disgrace around and not being able to say, in the words of Elton John, "Sorry seems to be the hardest word," they wandered the land seeking work as mercenaries.

Fast forward to today and as you might expect, the Ronins are not a pretty crew except for the leader, an Irish renegade (IRA?) played with coolness by Natascha McElhone. Frenchman Jean Reno quickly becomes DeNiro's sidekick, but even then we have no clue to his identity. Stellan Skarsgard is the KGB computer wizard who turns creepy, while Jonathan Pryce, apart from hawking cars on TV these days, seems destined only for sinister roles.

Their mission of recovering a valise filled with jewels? bombs? money? military secrets? does not seem impossible, unless the contents are filled with the latest fashion stolen from K-Mart designers. With their first rendezvous along the Seine, the fun begins. Before you can say "Allez!" they're in pursuit through the streets of Paris motoring at speeds and spins of an upside down roller coaster.

Throughout it all, one fact stood out to your Show Biz Maven. As the drivers slowed to about 200mph, it was obvious that one of the cars was a Citroen. Never again will your little Maven ridicule a French automobile, for how this brand held up after being driven by lunatics along the entire cobblestones of Paris remains a mystery. The vehicle was barely dented, never stopped running, and performed miracles as it was spun around, stopped and started, took hairpin curves, and did all the mundane things you expect a car to do.

Still pounding the streets in search of the case, the Ronin consulted a Michelin Guide and wound up in Nice, one of the Maven's best-loved cities. As you might imagine, there were more car clashes only this time with the backdrop of the French Riviera.

One of the places your Show Biz Maven recognized was Vieux Nice (Old Nice), home of chic fashion where by now all shopkeepers know the Maven by her withered looking credit cards. Unfortunately, no one had time to peruse or find a bargain, as a new batch of people were killed and this almost included DeNiro who hobbled into a stranger's villa (ex-CIA?) to have a bullet extracted without any anesthesia. Please, if any children are reading this review, do not attempt this at home!

RONIN, written by David Mamet and J.D. Zeik, has witty lines all spoken, of course, by DeNiro. When someone asks him whether he has ever killed anybody, he replies, "I hurt someone's feelings once." To round out the sequence of events, Olympic skater Katarina Witt plays a Mafia girlfriend. Don't ask what happens to her. All the Maven will tell you is that she winds up on thin ice. Otherwise, DeNiro is back where he belongs. Do Run, Run, run, Do Run, Run.

With love & knishes from your Show Biz Maven.

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