Ronin is a 1998 American spy thriller action film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean, and Jonathan Pryce. The film is about two of several former special forces and intelligence agents who team up to steal a mysterious, heavily guarded case. The film is noted for its car chases through Nice and Paris.
Spence: You ever kill anybody?
Sam: I hurt somebody’s feelings once.
Sam: Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt. That’s the first thing they teach you.
Vincent: Who taught you?
Sam: I don’t remember. That’s the second thing they teach you.
Sam: All good things come to those who wait.
Vincent: No questions. No answers. That’s the business we’re in. You just accept it and move on. Maybe that’s lesson number three.
Tire marks from previous takes visible at several points during car chase.
Ronin is notable for a number of car chases, the last being a particularly lengthy one through the streets and tunnels of Paris; some scenes used up to 300 stunt drivers. Although action sequences are often shot by a second unit director, Frankenheimer did all these himself, and sometimes rode along. While he was aware of the many innovations in digital special effects since then, he elected to film all these sequences live, to obtain the maximum level of authenticity. To further this, many of the high-speed shots have the actual actors in the cars. Skipp Sudduth did nearly all of his own driving, while other cars were right hand drive models with stunt drivers driving – crashes were handled by a stuntman. To lend additional authenticity, the sound recordist re-recorded many of the vehicles in the chases to ensure that during the editing, the right sounds were dubbed in for each vehicle.
Several cars are used in the chases, including an Audi S8 D2, a Peugeot 406, three Peugeot 605s, a Citroën XM, a BMW M5 E34 and Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9, a rare Mercedes-Benz W116 variant with a high-powered engine. Most famously, a 1998 Audi S8 quattro, portrayed as stolen to order and then fitted with a nitrous oxide power-booster, is chosen for its bulk, grip and torque and driven in Paris and Nice by Sudduth’s character. As a result the car is rated 9th in Car magazine’s Top 40 Coolest Movie Cars.
Jean-Claude Lagniez (car stunt coordinator) supervised approximately 150 stunt drivers for various sequences in Ronin. They drove at speeds up to 120 miles per hour, and 80 cars were intentionally wrecked during the course of the production.
The final scene at the Zénith de Paris had 2,000 extras, according to Frankenheimer.
In the first chase while after the briefcase, the Audi sustains a fair amount of damage to the front of the car, including the headlamps being displaced. When the chase ends at the corner of the 3-way intersection, it shows an Audi with the front intact as it smashes into the front quarter of the Citroen. You can see clearly as the accident occurs that the driver-side headlamp is completely undamaged.
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