BY AMBER KELLY-ANDERSON
What it’s about: Wealthy Chicago doctor Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is wrongly accused of murdering his wife (Sela Ward). Following a bus-train collision en route to prison, Kimble must prove his innocence while on the run from smart-talking, quick-thinking US Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones).
Who’s in it: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbe
When it came out: 1993
How come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it: The Fugitive, based on the 1960s television show, is a rare film that garnered commercial and critical success, including a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Now it’s one of those movies that turns up occasionally on cable on Saturday afternoons. After twenty years, it’s been parodied and referenced so much that it’s part of pop culture. In some ways that dilutes the fact that it’s a terrific film worth revisiting next time you stumble across it, or putting on when you need a good thriller for movie night.
Why you need to watch it–immediately!
It’s the perfect balance for a thriller–action, smart plot, good dialogue, fantastic score–but not so many twists that you need a spreadsheet to keep up. Take note to those who would adapt television series to movies: this is how it’s done.
Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard is brash and funny, yet believable. Granted, he’s given better performances in other films, but much of the success of The Fugitive is due to his work. Ford is fine as the fallen doctor; however, his performance is pretty much the same as the ones he gives in the Tom Clancy films. Jones is surprising, slick, and amps the energy in a way that perfectly balances Ford’s understated desperation. No wonder he dominated the Best Supporting Actor awards that season (Oscar, Globe, and all those Films Critic Lists that turn out around that same time).
The famous “henhouse, outhouse and doghouse” speech Jones gives before the chase commences is still great after repeat viewings. That, combined with his response of “I don’t care” to Kimble’s declaration of innocence, probably cinched his award season wins.
Look for Julianne Moore and Jane Lynch, fabulous ladies to the bone, in small roles.
Normally the sound and score aren’t big details I pick up on in movies, but in this case they take the film to another level. Listen to the effects during the train crash. Teeth jarring, right?
And oh yeah, a bus and a train crash. There are explosions. It’s fantastic.
As is the crazy dive to freedom Kimble takes when cornered in the middle of the film.