Autoweek Asks: Does ‘Ronin’ have potential as a film franchise?
John Frankenheimer’s classic seems perfectly suited for sequels with new casts
The only thing that has printed money as efficiently as the Superhero Movie Industrial Complex over the past 20 years has been the “Fast and Furious” Industrial Complex, which launched its own spinoff film earlier this year. One would think that other film studios would want to replicate the success of the “Fast and Furious” films, which now even have their own theme park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.
We have such a film series opportunity in mind, and it’s John Frankenheimer’s cult classic “Ronin” — a movie that needs very little introduction in car enthusiast circles.
The plot and the premise are primed for sequels: a team of mercenaries who are out-of-work or retired spies are hired by shadowy bosses to steal an item that they cannot buy but have just enough money to pay a group of veteran spies to steal. And the mercenaries then proceed to try to acquire the item or perform some hired task. Needless to say, the operations don’t go as planned.
As you can see, the basic structure doesn’t require the original cast: Each film could have its own new set of characters, or some characters could return from the original film in a new role. The ones that survived the original, anyway, the ending of which we won’t spoil here in case you somehow have not seen the film.
The cars were as much the stars of the original film as the actors, and “Ronin” itself, as director John Frankenheimer hinted, was itself a vehicle to allow him to indulge himself in realistic chase sequences and shootouts through the streets of Paris, Nice and the French countryside.
In the years since the release of “Ronin,” not many movies have attempted to feature as realistic and as seriously intended car chase and action sequences. “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Supremacy” perhaps came the closest, but they were never as indulgent as “Ronin” when it came to the car chases themselves, even though the Mini chase in the first film in Paris and the Moscow sequence in the second film came fairly close.
In case you have any doubts that we’ve spent too much time thinking about this, we’ve even dream-cast some actors for a second film in the series. Staying true to the international nature of the original cast, Clive Owen could play the role of a British intel agent turned mercenary, Vladimir Mashkov could play the role of a Russian mercenary, Ben Mendelsohn could play an American agent, and Jean Reno could return as the French fixer. Thekla Reuten, meanwhile, could play the Dutch boss who hires the team for the job, mirroring a role played by Natascha McElhone in the original film.
Does “Ronin” have potential as a film franchise?
Let us know in the comments below.