Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 28th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: UK / France / USA, 1998
Director: John Frankenheimer
Writers: J.D. Zeik, David Mamet
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean, Skipp Sudduth, Michael Lonsdale, Jan Tríska, Jonathan Pryce
BluRay released: August 14th, 2017 (UK), August 29th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 122 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), R (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
Ronin was directed by John Frankenheimer whose other notable films include, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, The Train, Seconds and 52 Pick-Up. Key collaborators on Ronin include, cinematographer Robert Fraisse (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Lover) and screenwriter David Mamet (The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Untouchables).
By the time John Frankenheimer directed Ronin, he had already established an extraordinary resume that firmly puts him amongst the greatest American filmmakers. With his most revered films being in the thriller genre.
Content wise, this film has all the ingredients one would want or expect from an action / thriller hybrid film. The film’s premise is well executed and the narrative does a great job creating and sustaining tension. And nowhere is this more evident, than when it comes to obtaining the case that multiple individuals are willing to kill for.
Another area where the films excels is how the aforementioned case becomes a character in its own right. And this achieved via the Hitchcockian device known as a McGuffin. With the quest to recover and find out what is inside the case an afterthought by the time the film’s moment of truth arrives.
This film features an ensemble cast, who are all excellent in their respective roles. With this film’s most surprising performance being Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show, Solaris) in the role of Deirdre, the ringleader who hires a group of specialists to help her recover the aforementioned case. Another performance of note is Jean Reno (Nikita, Léon) in the role of Vincent, one of mend hired by Deirdre. He delivers a subdued performance that does a superb job offsetting the more operatic performances in this film.
Visually this film delivers in spades and nowhere is more evident, then when it comes to the way it takes full advantage of the scenic locations. With this film’s standout moments being, a scene the men who have been hired by Deirdre are ambushed in an exchanged that turns into a bloody shootout. And an exhilarating car chase through Nice, that culminates after one of the cars drives off an area of the freeway that is under construction.
Ronin comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release the transfer was created from a brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release, supervised and approved by director of photography Robert Fraisse. And when compared to MGM’s previous Blu-ray release, this new transfer is superior in every way. With the largest areas of improvement being, colors, image clarity and black levels. Also, grain looks natural and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes offer up solid sound experiences. Dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and range wise things sound robust when they need too. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, an image gallery, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 28 seconds), an alternate ending (1 minute 49 seconds), an episode of the television series Cinefile titled You Talkin’ to Me? (27 minutes 1 second), an interview with cinematographer Robert Fraisse titled Close Up (31 minutes 27 seconds) and an audio commentary with director John Frankenheimer.
The extra titled You Talkin’ to Me? Is a one on one interview with director Quentin Tarantino, who discusses Robert De Niro and his acting legacy.
Other extras include, seven archive featurettes – Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane (17 minutes 45 seconds), Through the Lens (17 minutes 57 seconds), The Driving of Ronin (15 minutes 29 seconds), Natascha McElhone: An Actor’s Process (13 minutes 57 seconds), Composing the Ronin Score (11 minutes 52 seconds), In the Cutting Room (18 minutes 56 seconds) and Venice Film Festival Interviews (20 minutes 41 seconds).
Rounding out the extras is a slipcover, a reversible cover art and thirty-six-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Full Throttle Fin de siècle written by Travis Crawford and information about the restoration / transfer.
There is wealth of extra content included with this release and content wise, the extra are an exhaustive overview that leaves no stone unturned. With this release’s standout, extra being the audio commentary with John Frankenheimer.
Overall Ronin gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.