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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts that highlight storytelling techniques repeatedly recycled in film. I’ll post a link to these within some of my reviews in order to save words and keep from driving myself crazy writing the same thing over and over.

The Speech 180 is often found in romantic comedies and is one of the lazier ways that screenwriters add a twist (if you can call it that) to a film’s climax. We’re led to believe that the protagonist’s goal (or romance) is being compromised for some reason. This compromise will be sealed by a speech that can range from a business presentation to an address on live TV. At some point during the speech the protagonist stops, has an epiphany and backs away from the compromise for the sake of truth, love, or whatever and we get a happy ending.

At the end of “Ronin” (1998), spy/hitman/something-or-other Jean Reno becomes narrator and utters, “no questions and no answers.” Well, I have questions and would like some answers. If anyone other than John Frankenheimer had directed, could a post-Cold War espionage flick starring Robert De Niro have possibly been as pointless and opaque? And what is Frankenheimer’s obsession with assassination attempts at big events? And how do you have a seemingly endless car chase through Paris and encounter only one cop? There’s willing suspension of disbelief and then there’s willful ignorance of reality. Is that what was in the secret case?

In “Money Train” (1995), a heist gets derailed before it reaches its destination. So does the plot. It was actually a decent buddy/action flick until the director decided to just destroy a bunch of shit instead of having an actual ending. The movie catches several careers in transition. Wesley Snipes was beginning to cool down. Woody Harrelson was moving from TV to movie star. So was Jennifer Lopez, long before her recording career. Chris Cooper was still a character actor, eight years before his Oscar. And last but not least, Robert Blake was shifting from famous actor to famous psychopath.