Tuesday, February 7, 2012
(August 1993, U.S.)
From the moment THE FUGITIVE (based on the popular television series) begins, it grabs you. In less than fifteen minutes, we've witnessed the murder of Dr. Richard Kimble's (played by the great Harrison Ford) wife, his arrest, his conviction and his death sentence. Because of our knowledge of television history, we know Kimble is innocent, we know the one-armed man did it, we know Kimble will escape his prison sentence and we know he'll be chased all over the place as he desperately tries to clear his name and find his wife's true killer.
Now I never saw one episode of the original TV show, so I have no basis of comparison to judge this film, so in other words, my eyes are wide open and my mind is very fresh. Ford, as in most of his roles, fills the spot perfectly with a combination of determinated strength and a desperate vulnerability. Tommy Lee Jones as U.S. Marshall Deputy Samuel Gerard represents a clear definition of obssessed committment to catching his prey. As he clearly states, he doesn't care whether Kimble killed his wife or not. He's the cat and it's his job to catch the mouse under any and all circumstances. Sounds pretty solid on paper, but somewhere along the way Gerard is inevitably apt to become more of a human being on this case and realize that Kimble IS not only innocent, but that the one-armed man does exist and he'll pay for the crime (sooner or later). Even the end resolution is not in any way cheap or limited as the corruption and deception behind the pharmaceutical company determined to get their new drug passed and approved by the FDA is ultimately responsible for the death of Kimble's wife.
THE FUGITIVE garnered critical and commercial success and was even nominated for Best Picture of 1993, which is extremely rare for a movie associated with a television series (that never would have happened with CHARLIE'S ANGELS!). For myself, during a summer that was dominated by Steven Spielberg's dinosaurs, I can honestly say that not only was THE FUGITIVE the best film of that summer, but also one of the best action thrillers of the 1990s.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Samuel Gerard: "Newman, what are you doing?"
Newman: "I'm thinking."
Gerard: "Well, think me up a cup of coffee and a chocolate doughnut with some of those little sprinkles on top, while you're THINKING."