The Cold War may be over, but a new world order keeps a group of covert mercenaries employed by the highest bidder. These operatives, known as "Ronin," are assembled in France by a mysterious client for a seemingly routine mission: steal a top-secret briefcase. But the simple task soon proves explosive asother underworld organizations vie for the same prize...and to get the job done, the members of Ronin must do something they've never done before...trust each other.
The two-disc set has substantial additional features, most of which emphasize the film's extraordinary car chase sequences. In his commentary, director John Frankenheimer delights in the stunts ("Now that's the best four-wheel drift I think I've ever seen!") and explores the difficulty of effective time transitions in a thriller. He also discusses his love of Paris, and how the city presents challenges to location filmmaking that aren't encountered in U.S. productions. The segments "The Driving of Ronin" and "Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane" focus on cars, Paris, and cars in Paris; the interview with stunt-car coordinator Jean-Claude Lagniez is especially enlightening.
Robert De Niro, Natascha McElhone, and Jean Reno discuss their characters in Venice Film Festival interviews; De Niro is characteristically taciturn, McElhone articulate and lovely, and Reno charmingly expansive about his character Vincent ("Is he tough? Yeh, he knows his guns."). McElhone also gets her own separate interview segment, in which she discusses her concern over being thrown into the opening scenes as a novice among old pros--a situation shared by her character in the film.
Segments with the director of photography, editor, and composer are also included, but Elia Cmiral's use of the haunting duduk theme deserves more exploration than it gets here. There is also a thrown-together photo gallery and a brief, bleak alternate ending. --Michael Smith