Friday, April 5, 2013

Movie #185: The Fugitive

The Fugitive is a 1993 movie based on a TV show of the same name (which I've never seen), starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. It's a pretty awesome movie in a lot of ways (though, let's just get this out of the way up front, there are three women in the movie - Sela Ward, Julianne Moore, and L. Scott Caldwell, and none of them get much screen time. Wait, four, because a very young Jane Lynch shows up, too).

Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) comes home and finds his wife (Ward) dying and a one-armed man fleeing the scene. He fights the man, but loses, and his wife dies. The police, showing incompetence that would be completely beyond the pale if it weren't so believable, book him for the murder (no forensic evidence indicates anyone else was there, and the 911 call his wife made kinda-sorta makes it sound like she's identifying him as the killer, if you squint and are dumb). So he's convicted and sentenced to death.

One train wreck later, he escapes and goes on the run, trying to find the one-armed man's identity. Meanwhile, he's pursued doggedly by a skilled US Marshal (Jones) and his team (including Campbell, and Joey Pants). Now, they do all the work that the police didn't do, recognize right away that the real killer (Andreas Katsulas) is dirty (he's an ex-cop, which might be why the police didn't look too hard at him when they investigated him the first time). Kimble, however, managed to stay one step ahead of everyone and confronts both the killer and the dude who set the whole thing up, and is exonerated.

Ford's performance is really awesome. He's obviously hurting and infuriated by the whole thing, and he never, ever, acts cool. He's not a cool dude who's too cool for anything uncool (I have this issue with a lot of action movies, and a lot of RPG players who make cool characters). He manages to keep his cool under some pretty unpleasant situation (I chalk that up to his profession and, somewhat, the year+ he must have spent in jail before the escape), but he never looks unaffected by what's happening.

Jones, of course, is the real standout here. He won an Oscar for this role and it spawned a spinoff (the far-inferior US Marshalls). His Sam Gerard is unrelenting and all business, but he's dedicated to his job in a not-stupid way. That is, he doesn't let the fact that Kimble is innocent (which he suspects fairly early on) get in the way of catching him, but he also puts the puzzle together and doesn't go for blood after that.

So. Flunks the Bechdel nice and hard. We have good scenes with Julianne Moore and Jane Lynch, Sela Ward gets fridged as the impetus for the whole thing. But it's well-scripted and well-acted and well-directed, and it makes Chicago look grey, unforgiving and dingy, so there's that.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Galaxy Quest