The Fugitive (1993) / Thriller-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and some language
Running Time: 130 min.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Jeroen Krabbe, Andreas Katsulas, Joe Pantoliano, Sela Ward, Julianne Moore, Daniel Roebuck, L. Scott Caldwell, Tom Wood
Director: Andrew Davis
Screenplay: Jeb Stuart, David Twohy
Review published December 31, 2003
A film doesn't necessarily have to be high art to be good, and The Fugitive is case in point. It would be a smash hit for 1993, amassing almost $200 million at the box office, and land seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It would only receive one, Tommy Lee Jones (The Eyes of Laura Mars, Batman Forever) first, winning Best Supporting Actor for his memorable portrayal of US Marshal, Samuel Gerard. It was a role so popular that an unlikely spin-off would be borne for Jones, playing Gerard again in 1998's US Marshals.
The Fugitive is based on the popular 60s television show of the same name, featuring the same basic premise. Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford, Patriot Games) comes home one day to find his wife (Ward, 54) murdered, but the culprit is still in the house, a mysterious man with only one arm. The man gets away, and all evidence points to Kimble as the murderer, and he is tried and convicted. An attempted break-out occurs among some transported inmates, resulting in Kimble breaking free, leaving him to his own devices as to filling in the mystery of his wife's death, and the gathering of evidence to clear his name. Meanwhile, the police and a tenacious US Marshal (Jones) is hot on his tail, and they won't stop until Kimble is caught, dead or alive.
The acting skills of Ford and Jones have long been established prior to filming, so no big surprise that they each deliver exceptionally well-rounded performances. Although Jones would receive the accolades for his, even catapulting him into a big star, it's really Ford's crucial performance that makes The Fugitive stand out as one of the better, more intelligent action films of the 90s. Jones collaborates for the third straight time with director Andrew Davis, following their efforts in The Package and Under Siege. Perhaps because of their previous chemistry, Jones brings a refreshing looseness to his role that make him fun to watch, while Davis matures into a fine action director, keeping the action always moving forward, while also letting the characters dictate the importance of each scene.
The Fugitive is recommended for all action and thriller fans, and especially for those who enjoy the acting styles of Ford and Jones. If you are unfamiliar with the original television series, don't worry, as it's a stand alone story through and through, and much different in tone and tempo. It's a pure entertainment vehicle, but remarkably well-executed, firing on all cylinders at breakneck speed from the thrilling beginning to the supercharged finale.
©2003 Vince Leo