What is outstanding here are (only) two elements: (1) the absolutely superior cinematography and (2) De Niro's presence; without him this movie would have been less. The story itself is "ordinray", the "buzz" is not missing, but quite average. And, I also can't see a reasonable link to japanese ronin's, but much more linkage to "The Dirty Dozen". Anyway, the two beforementioned elements are so strong but not 5 stars.
Plot is essentially about nothing. A loosely connected series of deceptions, bluffs & double-bluffs, leading towards an unanswerable McGuffin. Mamet's dialog is snappy & hard-boiled but tells us zero about characters that feel like they've been ripped from different films. But it doesn't matter. It's just an excuse for Frankenheimer to put together some of the greatest, most gripping action set-pieces of his career.
The action sequences are outstanding (no kinetic editing overload), the ensemble cast is stellar (90s method afficianados) and the premise/delivery of the film echoes De Palma's second wave interpretation of Hitchcock (Blow Out, Mission Impossible). It adheres to action thriller genre conventions (even the MacGuffin) but stands tall due to its mature and understated approach akin to 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'.
RONIN is a masterclass in economy. Mamet controversially rewrote J.D. Zeik's screenplay. He is said to have changed every line of dialog; stripped characters down to the bone, bushido-style. For white-knuckle action, even the Bourne movies cannot surpass it. RONIN also contains De Niro's last great role. With a sly nod to Hitchcock, Frankenheimer's direction is flawless. In fact, it requires not admiration but study.
A masterpiece and auteuristic in execution, despite being fully depthless entertainment. Ronin is easily one of the best action films of the 1990's, if not ever. Period. It's sleek, cool, and full of twists and turns and somehow has tension despite marginal character dimension. The scant details are purposeful: it's purely a job for these professionals, akin to Frankenheimer who keeps the momentum up always.
Buonissimo film d'azione diretto da un grande mestierante del genere come Frankenheimer. Lo script non è proprio il massimo,nonostante l'espediente riuscitissimo del MacGuffin,i tradimenti e gli snodi a volte sembrano messi lì per vivacizzare le cose,ma tutto ciò è compensato da un action di primo piano,con l'inseguimento contromano che sale davvero tanto. De Niro e Renò un pò imbolsiti,ma cmq regge bene.