In the movie Ronin (1998), I want to know what was in the case. I am well aware that the contents of the case are irrelevant to the plot - the Deniro character just wants to catch the IRA member, Seamus.

Just to summarize, the IRA and "the Russians" both want the case, and are willing to pay more than a $500,000 US for it. If it were biological weapons circa 1998, you'd think Russians wouldn't need to travel to western Europe and pay for it; they could get them on the cheap in Yeltsin's Russia.

Thus, I can't imagine what could be so valuable. It can't be a conventional weapon, as it isn't very heavy. It is to big to be just information. What could it be?

I'm looking for an in-universe answer.

  • 3
    I'm going to assume it contains a can of spray glue, since that's what was in Elwood Blues' case. – T.E.D. Jun 7 '16 at 13:19
  • 1
    It's Marcellus Wallace's case. Vincent Vega got really stoned in Amsterdam and left it behind at the cafe he was at. – PoloHoleSet Sep 2 '16 at 15:22
  • So my take on it is the name of I.R.A informants from America and Europe – Justin Grierson Mar 11 '17 at 0:33

This is deliberately ambiguous, and unknowable.

It's a classic Macguffin; something that is purposefully not disclosed to heighten intrigue.
The film's IMDB FAQ page lists a number of speculations, but out-of-universe the directors have intentionally kept it incalculable.

The briefcase is a "MacGuffin" - a term popularized by director Alfred Hitchcock and writer Angus MacPhail to describe a plot point that is deliberately left vague so as not to draw too much emphasis away from the real story. What is known about the contents is: (1) It is worth more than $800,000 (the maximum the Irish are willing to pay the mercenaries since they cannot afford to bid for it, and about the same amount that can fit in Gregor's briefcase at the end of the film); (2) It is wanted by both the Russians AND the Irish, but neither is willing to pay for it; (3) It is small enough to fit inside an ice-skate case, and not too heavy to be handled by a variety of characters; and (4) It cannot be hazardous material, since Gregor was able to mail it to himself through the French postal system, who would check. Some speculations are: (1) Important or stolen blueprints; (2) Printing plates for the new (at the time) Euro bills; (3) Important or stolen documents. and (4) The ice skate case belongs to the Russians and contains information that they want back. (Details of arms sales? Pictures of Mikhi with underage boys?).That's why Mikhi wants it back but doesn't want to pay for it; handing over money could validate the contents and be used to blackmail him later. The Irish want it as leverage over the Russians. The CIA want it to convict the Russians. The man with the case wants to sell it and make a quick buck.

  • I can't imagine that documents or blueprints would not be in electronic form in 1998. Printing plates for Eurobills seems plausible, but the level of desperation seems to high for a white collar sort of activity. – axsvl77 Jun 7 '16 at 13:54
  • @could be the electronic media documents or blueprints are on. No one said the contents had to take up all the space. – PoloHoleSet Sep 2 '16 at 15:25

Could it be English pound conterfeit plates, something that the IRA could use against England as Hitler did. Something that the Russians could also use against them and that the CIA would wish to aquire before that happens thus preseving the World economic stability.

  • 1
    Can you present any evidence for this claim or is this just speculation? – Napoleon Wilson Sep 2 '16 at 14:24
  • 1
    Welcome to Movies & TV! I can see you're new here so I just want to point out that anything you know as a fact or that has specific documentable proof (i.e. a quotable interview with a cast or crew member) is usually left as an answer, and anything speculative or requesting more information is usually left as a comment. Since this is speculative, this should be a comment under the question and not its own answer. Just for future reference. So, if someone flags this, don't take offense! I hope you enjoy your stay and continue to contribute! – Johnny Bones Sep 2 '16 at 14:28
  • Hitler reference makes me think maybe Hitler's brain was in the case! – PoloHoleSet Sep 2 '16 at 15:26

Based on the prices being offered, and the willingness to kill, and the fact that Shamus is a terrorist (revealed at the end of the film's news story), there is a strong possibility that it was a nuke of some kind, as they could have gotten explosives from anywhere. Had it been mentioned in the film that it was in fact a nuke-then it really would have changed the whole story at least in part. I like that they kept it vague, more like an unknown prize.


Probably vital intelligence about CIA undercover operatives in Europe? Why would the IRA want it so badly?
There is also GPS satellite navigation equipment for ships which fit in the suitcase and are not too heavy to handle.
I can imagine both IRA and Russians like to stir some shit up with sending a ship off course.
Or a vital peace of intelligence containing the identity of undercover CIA operatives.
Any of these would explain why Sam as an American is on the team.
But I think the entire point of the movie is to put us in a position where we, like the characters, are desperate to know what's in there. Like them, however, we will never find out. "NO questions and NO answers. That's the business we're in. Accept it and move on" is the final lines of movie.


Some higher grade of Uranium, 235 would be by bet. It also could possibly be Plutonium.

  • 2
    Why do you think this? – John Jun 7 '17 at 3:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .