John Frankenheimer’s action thriller Ronin is becoming a TV series, courtesy of Vikings creator Michael Hirst. Ronin starred Robert De Niro as the leader of a group of mercenaries who are hired to steal a mysterious briefcase. The film is best remembered for it's intense, white-knuckle car chase sequences, in addition to the twisty script by David Mamet and great supporting turns by Jean Reno, Sean Bean and Stellan Skarsgard.
Ronin was a modest hit upon release, but it’s grown into a cult favorite over the years and has been re-released on DVD and Blu-ray multiple times. The film's focus on practical stunts and action, quotable dialogue and lean approach to exposition – it famously never explains what’s actually in the briefcase – has earned it a number of fans, and now it’s going to be updated for a new audience.
A new report by THR reveals that Vikings showrunner Michael Hirst will adapt Ronin for television, via his newly formed production company Green Pavilion Entertainment. The show is still in development, so no plot or casting details are available, but it seems likely the show will at least broadly follow the same setup as the film, where a group of mercenaries are brought together for a dangerous mission.
On the surface at least, Ronin could be potentially futile ground for a series. In addition to its action sequences and twisting plotline, the movie also had time to explore the morality of being a hired killer, and the weary life of a professional mercenary. Hirst is also an excellent choice to develop the series, as his stellar work on Vikings has shown.
While movies being turned into TV shows used to a warning sign, a number of properties have successfully made the leap in recent years. Shows like Hannibal, Fargo, Bates Motel and Westworld showed it was possible to take iconic movies and flesh them out even further while reinventing them for a new era. The translation isn’t always a smooth one though, as the recent, short-lived series based on Rush Hour, Uncle Buck and The Mist have shown. Time will tell what category Ronin will fall into, but based on the talent involved, there’s reason to be hopeful it can live up to the movie.
Ronin doesn’t currently have an airdate, but we’ll keep you updated as more information arrives.