Year Released: 2016
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yaro
(PG-13, 118 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Drama
“You followed me in here. That was a mistake.” Jack Reacher
He’s the workingman’s James Bond. A loner in a T-shirt and jeans instead of a tux. Jack Reacher wouldn’t know a Cabernet from a cognac, and I’d guess he probably drinks his beer straight from the bottle. And no, the ex army major is not licensed to kill, but he is every bit as lethal as 007.
In spite of the tepid reviews and a trailer that seemed pretty predictable, something drew me to this film. Maybe it was the rebellious spirit that finds me at odds with all those politically corrects film reviewers. At any rate, I wasn’t expecting too much, but actually I was pleasantly surprised.
Maybe it’s the guilty pleasure of watching Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher take down the bad guys without warning. In real life too many of them seem immune to any punishment; they flaunt their violence and sneer as they get away with unspeakable horrors. At least for a few hours in the darkened cinema, they meet swift justice.
And while his parting verbal shots lack James Bonds’ ironic wit, Jack Reacher’s unadorned words land as tough and hard as his punches:
Corrupt Sheriff: “Who are you?”
Jack Reacher: “The guy you didn’t count on.”
He approaches two thugs tailing him now seated in their car. There is no knock on the window, just Jack’s fist pounding through the glass to the driver’s head.
"I don’t like being followed."
And he makes that sentiment even more clear when he confronts four contract killers who have pursued him into an abandoned building:
“You followed me in here. That was a mistake.”
Bravado or fair warning? You’ll have to see the film to find out.
Okay, the plot is not especially sophisticated. We don’t have those unending plot twists that are so trendy now, but actually, most of the twists in other films are pretty hollow and contrived, so their absence seems a good thing here.
While Reacher is the “blunt object” Judi Dench’s M once accused Bond of being, he is softened considerably by his two supporting actresses.
Cobie Smulders plays Major Susan Turner, who has taken over Reacher’s old job. They often talk on the phone and he assists her in a few off the books operations. When he travels to DC to meet up for dinner, he finds her imprisoned on false charges.
Yes, Reacher busts her out of jail, but she is anything but a damsel in distress, and both Cruise and director Edward Zwick have worked hard to make her an equal player.
"Tom wanted (Smulders) to be toe-to-toe, not just running, but also in making decisions in the film. She's his peer," Zwick says.
But maybe the brightest addition is Sam Dayton (Danika Yarosh), a 15-year-old, who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter. Just as the teenage neighbor in Gran Torino brought out the humanity in Clint Eastwood’s curmudgeonly Walter Kowalski, so does Sam for Reacher. She is outwardly as tough as he is, even confronting him with the same words we have just seen him say when she notices he is tailing her.
“I don’t like being followed,” she tells him and then walks away into the dark alley with a defiant single-fingered salute.
Sam is at once street-wise and street-scarred, both strong and vulnerable as we imagine Reacher is as well. She reveals her misgivings so Reacher doesn’t have to. But we nonetheless know his hard shell is just as much a mask as hers.
This is a fall popcorn movie to get us through the drought until they dump all the Oscar wannabes on us in December. Don’t expect filet mignon, just enjoy this guilty pleasure for what it is – a very serviceable action thriller.
Our first shot of him is at the diner counter, his back to us, head down, his white T-shirt tight against a well muscled back. Jack Reacher is not eating, but waiting patiently for the 2 sheriffs who arrest him for the carnage of bodies he has left littering the small town street. The ones who are in for a surprise, however, are the corrupt sheriffs. Instead of Jack Reacher, it is these two who are ultimately led out in cuffs.
Too bad Jack hasn’t eaten at the diner. From then on he will be both the hunted and the hunter, existing on fast food gulped down in between bloody encounters with relentless pursuers on either side of the law.
If only he’d had time to eat this delicious Diner Style Salisbury Steak. Let’s do it for him, then.
Diner Style Salisbury Steak
Isn't it about time to take a trip down memory lane? Let's stay home and revisit the old diner that served up the Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes smothered with mushroom gravy. Oh - we can't forget the green peas on the side!
What You'll Need:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
- 1 (12-ounce) container beef gravy
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
What To Do:
In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, scallion, bread crumbs, egg, and mustard' mis well Shape into four 1/2 inch-thick oval patties.
Heat skillet over mediun-high heat and cook patties 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until no pink remains.
Add grave, water, horseradish, and mushrooms, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.
Each serving makes a hearty meal, so you can certainly make smaller portions - just form the mixture into six or eight smaller patties.