Ronin: SE John Frankenheimer

An international selection of former government officers, from ex-U.S. intelligence to ex-KGB, offers their services as guns-for-hire. Deirdre (Natasha McElhone) assembles such a team in an attempt to recover a mysterious suitcase pursued by Irish terrorist and Russian gangster interests. American Sam (Robert De Niro) and the French Vincent (Jean Reno) strike up a friendship while on the job, and Sam fixes his romantic intentions on Deirdre. Paranoia would seem an omnipresent element in Frankenheimer’s work — paranoia amongst the fractured drunks in The Iceman Cometh, paranoia of Mafia influence in Year of the Gun, paranoia of radical surgery in Seconds. In his five-decade career, he made thrillers (The Manchurian Candidate), art (Iceman) and crap (Prophecy: The Monster Movie), always staging a fear of duplicity. This film is no exception; with Ronin, loyalties are betrayed and the characters are further mired in an atmosphere of suspicion and deceit. Ronin sports a script co-written by a David Mamet pseudonym, and menacing, teeth-grinding supporting performances from Stellan Skarsgård and Jonathan Pryce. The new two-disc DVD tops the former release for extras and transfer — the film looks beautiful and the second disc is loaded with "making of” featurettes. Fans of car chases and espionage will not be disappointed, and for the uninitiated, this is a decent starting point for succumbing to John Frankenheimer’s paranoiac embrace. (MGM/Sony)