Monday, December 21, 2009

The Pink Panther and Ronin

Snowed like a bastard here this weekend, so I rested after the daily shoveling exercise to watch some hockey and a couple of movies.

The Return of the Pink Panther isn’t one of the better ones, but there are still quite a few laughs. Henry Mancini’s score holds up over thirty years later; it was nice to remember there was a time when segues and establishing shots were actually scored, instead of the current practice of using a pop tune. Herbert Lom manages to steal his scenes as the deranged Chief Inspector Dreyfus, no mean feat when sharing the camera with Peter Sellers. Given what we now know about Sellers, it’s easy to believe Lom wasn’t acting when describing how much he’d like to see Clouseau/Sellers dead.

Ronin is a thriller/caper/action flick that could easily have become stereotypical but for the understated bonding between Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno and the writing of David Mamet. (Mamet received no credit, but IMDB mentions him as a script doctor; little Mamet touches abound.) John Frankenheimer’s film is smart and holds together better than the usual Michael Bay explode-a-thon, even daring to make the audience think. That’s not to say it’s too cerebral; the car chases are riveting by any standards.

There are double-crosses on top of double-crosses; to say much about the plot would be to say too much. Suffice to say DeNiro is part of an international team pulled together on short notice to steal a case for an undisclosed organization; they don’t know what’s in it. The only face they see is of a young Irish woman. That’s not to say the organization is Irish; not to say, it isn’t, either. There are the usual friends with really good connections and sources to smooth out bumps in the plot, but not too many, and they’re not overly convenient. If you’re in the mood to watch an action movie that isn’t mind-numbing, you could do a lot worse than Ronin.


Mike Dennis said...

I really liked "Ronin", Dana. It was a tough, compact little film that reminded me of sleeper films of the 1970s. It had that kind of look to it, that kind of pacing and attitude. Very underrated, and I predict it will be "rediscovered" in 20 years or so.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sad how many bad movies he's done in the last ten years. This was one of the better ones.