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The Fugitive
1993 - PG-13 - 138 Mins.
Director: Andrew Davis
Producer: Arnold Kopelson
Written By: Jeb Stuart, David Twohy
Starring: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbe, Joe Pantoliano
Review by: John Ulmer
   
Imagine a time, if you will, when fugitive movies were not released ten times a year, a time when Tommy Lee Jones actually appeared in fugitive movies simply because he liked the script and not because he was revisiting the role that made him famous again, a time when the fugitive movies were about much more than simply a homicidal maniac being chased by a man who has a connection to him. You will understand this film a lot more.

It relies so much on characters and a witty script as compared to explosions and fight scenes. But of course that's not to say it doesn't have any pyrotechnics or chase scenes or battles - the action scenes will satisfy even the biggest of action buffs. It just makes a lot more sense when they're there for a purpose.

Harrison Ford plays Dr. Ryan Kimble. Kimble comes home from work one night after an emergency procedure at the hospital to find his wife brutally beaten to death by a one-armed man. The one-armed man escapes from the scene of the crime and all evidence points to Ryan as the assaultant and killer.

After sentenced to death, Ryan is pushed into the back of a convict bus transporting convicted fellons to jail. But one of the criminals tries to escape and the bus ends up swerving off the road and flipping down a steep ravine, coming to rest upon a railroad track. Ryan escapes before the train rips through the bus, resulting in a great scene where Ryan is running in front of the derailed train, chained at his feet and arms. It's the classic Indiana Jones bolder scene redux.

Ryan eventually disappears into the woods and U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives at the scene of the crash a short time later. He is the ultimate seeker; he is barely ever wrong about anything, and when he is he doesn't like to admit it. Jones presents his character with such a sense of self-confidence and oozing calmness that his Oscar was well-deserved.

Ryan keeps on running throughout the film, only stopping to gather evidence of his killer and then moving on. He goes through some interesting scenarios and starts to stumble upon a conspiracy, but no one will hear his story - the only living person who might care is the same man who says he doesn't care: Sam Gerard.

If I am correct in my observations, Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones only appear in about two scenes together - the rest of the film they are apart from each other. As Jones pursues Ford, it seems as though he starts to make a connection with his prey - as though he may be the only one understanding what Ford is doing and why. It creates a sense of greater suspense for the audience. This is not a run-of-the-mill chase picture we are exploited to on so many occasions. We care for both characters in equal regards, and when they finally do come face-to-face it results in a kind of unexpected payoff; at last we get to see the two together in the same shot and it's strange

The movie is directed by Andrew Davis, who directed "Collateral Damage" and "Holes." He has a solid sense of direction even if the material itself doesn't always hold together. Given a terrific script like "The Fugitive," Davis creates a type of cement cornerstone that is the base of the film. The script and direction compliment themselves often, something that can't be said in most cases.

Tommy Lee Jones recently appeared in "The Hunted," a film about a madman killer on the loose, and Jones plays the man trying to pursue him. The stupidity of the script hit me hard. I rewatched "The Fugitive" not a week after I saw "The Hunted" and realized the sheer genius of it versus the lesser film. This is a movie that will wet the apetite of all action, mystery and thriller lovers alike who are looking for something different than the routine chase films. I know it did for me.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

 
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