Robert De Niro stars as an American intelligence operative adrift in irrelevance since the end of the Cold War--much like a masterless samurai, a.k.a. "ronin." With his services for sale, he joins a renegade, international team of fellow covert warriors with nothing but time on their hands. Their mission, as defined by the woman who hires them (Natascha McElhone), is to get hold of a particular suitcase that is equally coveted by the Russian mafia and Irish terrorists. As the scheme gets underway, De Niro's lone wolf strikes up a rare friendship with his French counterpart (Jean Reno), gets into a more-or-less romantic frame of mind with McElhone, and asserts his experience on the planning and execution of the job--going so far as to publicly humiliate one team member (Sean Bean) who is clearly out of his league. The story is largely unremarkable--there's an obligatory twist midway through that changes the nature of the team's business--but legendary filmmaker John Frankenheimer (Seconds, The Manchurian Candidate) leaps at the material, bringing to it an honest tension and seasoned, breathtaking skill with precision-action direction. The centerpiece of the movie is an honest-to-God car chase that is the real thing: not the how-can-we-top-the-last-stunt cartoon nonsense of Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon), but a pulse-quickening, kinetic dance of superb montage and timing. In a sense, Ronin is almost Frankenheimer's self-quoting version of a John Frankenheimer film. There isn't anything here he hasn't done before, but it's sure great to see it all again.