Year Released: 2019
Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Piper Perabo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Nick Nolte
(R, 114 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Drama, Mystery and Suspense
“It’s our moments of struggle that define us. How we handle them is what matters.” – President Allan Trumball
It’s not so much the President, but his guardian angel, Mike Banning, who is in trouble with this latest edge of your seat thriller. The action is terrific and bold, thanks to its former stuntman director, Ric Roman Waugh, who by the way, lives in my adopted hometown, Austin, Texas.
When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody. After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the President.
This action film earns its stripes from the outset, a battle against terrorists in dark hallways, echoing the raid of Bin Laden’s compound in Abbotlabad, Pakistan, so well presented in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty: (Tandoori Chicken.} It’s so real, we think it is, until Banning’s shot to the heart turns out to be a paintball. But they had us going, and this scene is more than a cheap tease, as we find out later.
The sudden attack on now President Trumball (an always fabulous Morgan Freeman) is also a great set piece. What starts as a brief fishing break for the President, who has to settle for casting his line surrounded by a cadre of Secret Service men, turns into a disaster, as the sky suddenly unleashes an ominous cloud that turns out to be weaponized drones, blowing up almost everything in site, except for our two lone survivors, President Trumball, and Mike Banning, who has saved him.
Here we have echoes of Three Days of the Condor: (The Condor Cocktail),, where Robert Redford is the sole survivor of an assassination and is immediately on the lam from villains who may or may not be part of our own government.
Banning’s government is less coy. There is plenty of evidence – or as Hercule Poirot might say, possibly a little too much – that he has masterminded the attempted assassination of the President. Despite protests that he is being set up, Banning is charged with the attempted murder of the President of the United States.
What follows is “an outsized take of the The Fugitive,” as one critic calls it, with shadings of the Bourne Franchise, especially 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum: ( Moroccan Herbed Fish) , as Banning goes after those who have framed him.
Some added depth comes as a desperate Banning has to reconcile with his estranged father, Clay Banning, who, having cut up rough after Viet Nam, abandoned the family. Now living as a recluse somewhere in the woods of West Virginia, a grizzly old paranoid prepper type, he looks very much like the seedy, wrinkled old man he played so expertly in The Spiderwick Chronicles (Honey Pot Oatmeal Cookie Recipe) As in that 2008 film, Nolte’s hard living seems to have done a much better job in creating his grizzled look than any Hollywood makeup artist ever could achieve. They just had to add the unkempt white beard to complete the picture.
“It’s better sometimes knowing when to quit instead of lying to yourself, or anyone you care about the most,” is the closest Clay Banning comes to an apology or explanation.
His son has hidden battle scars, too. Migranes from the many concussions he has probably suffered in the line of duty, with secret doctor shopping and pills to purge him of his hidden pain.
But there is not much time for the two to get reacquainted as the cabin is soon surrounded by men with guns – lots of men with lots of guns. Here is where our wizened prepper dad comes into his glory. And that’s just the beginning of his uncanny survival tricks. But I won’ spoil it for you. You ‘ll have to see for yourself in full, flaming color.
A nice addition to the franchise, as cool and satisfying as an oversized Slurpee on a hot summer day. Except for the after-credits hokey scene. Do yourself a favor and leave before it hits the screen.
3 1/2 Drums
As stated in the review, some of the best scenes of the film are between Banning and his estranged dad, played by the inimitable Nick Nolte. Clay Banning, a Viet Nam veteran who suffered from PTSD, lives in a wilderness cabin in West Virginia, “one step short of the Unabomber,” as his son describes him.
When Banning is desperate enough and has nowhere else to go, he must turn to his crazy dad, who, strangely enough, is crazy like a fox.
We have sought out a West Virginia recipe to go along with this terrific thriller, but one that is simple enough that Clay Banning, prepper extraordinaire, might cook himself.
It’s a nice simple dinner for those who want an easy and tasty supper as well.
You might pair it with our Cattle Drive Cornbread recipe.
Off the Grid Ham and Brown Beans
This is the same recipe my mother's side of the family has been making for years, with my own special touch. Serve it with all of the fixin's. It goes great with cornbread, fried potatoes and fried cabbage. –Sabryson
1 pound dry pinto beans
8 cups water
1 large, meaty ham hock
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
Place the beans and water in a large stockpot. Add the ham hock, onion and garlic. Season with chil
powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes.i
Cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for one hour.
Return the pot to the heat, and bring to a boil once again. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for
at least 3 hours to blend flavors. The longer you simmer, the thicker the broth will become. I like to
cook mine for about 6 hours.
Remove the ham hock from the broth, and let cool. Remove the meat from the bone, and return the
meat to the stockpot, discarding the bone. Adjust seasonings to taste.