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When Dr. Richard Kimble found
His dear wife murdered on the ground,
He fought a fleeing one-armed man,
Who wrestled him before he ran,
But fingerprints in court don’t lie,
And Kimble’s sentenced soon to die.
A train wreck on his way to jail
Lets him escape to no avail.
The U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard
Dispatches every cop and guard
To search for Kimble on the lam,
Who leaps to freedom from a dam.
From then on, Kimble’s on the run
To try to prove to everyone
That he is innocent in fact
And find the killer that attacked.
Gerard is right behind the doc,
And both find secrets to unlock.
When Kimble finds the one-armed man
And learns the whole backstabbing plan,
He fights a fickle former friend,
Who tried to orchestrate his end.
Gerard, who claims he doesn’t care,
Brings Kimble in, the truth to share.

Probably the best film based on a TV series, The Fugitive is everything one could want in a chase film: cheer-worthy leads, awesome stunts and set pieces, and a fast-paced plot that keeps the audience and characters guessing.

Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are exceptional as fugitive Richard Kimble and his pursuer Sam Gerard. It may not be Ford’s most personable role, but his single-minded determination and unjust condemnation make him a worthy hero. Though he dares and survives some dangerous escapes, he never comes off as a superman; even when he’s ahead of the law, it’s just barely, and his risk of capture is always present, especially due to his more-than-worthy adversary. Tommy Lee Jones won Best Supporting Actor for his memorable role as the hardball U.S. marshal who matches wits with Kimble. Jones’s straight-faced delivery of unflinching demands and ornery impositions makes Gerard a dynamic presence, though at times I expected him to bring people’s attention to a certain neuralyzer. I thought Ford deserved a nomination too, but Jones’s performance was powerful enough to spawn the copycat sequel U. S. Marshals (see much lower on my list). Supporting players are well-cast, including Joe Pantaliano as Gerard’s right-hand man, Sela Ward as Kimble’s dead wife, Jeroen Krabbé as a seeming friend of Richard’s, Andreas Katsulas as the one-armed man, and (a long-in-coming Lost alert!) L. Scott Caldwell as Poole, the black lady on Gerard’s team (and Rose from my favorite show). Julianne Moore and Jane Lynch also found early roles as doctors Kimble encounters.

The awesome one-take train crash sequence alone is worth the price of admission, but the rest of the film is a tense pursuit that manages to be more engaging and interesting than any of the Bourne films. A hit with viewers and critics alike, The Fugitive only deepened Ford’s action persona and afforded Jones a well-deserved Oscar.

Best line: (Kimble, holding Gerard at gunpoint) “I didn’t kill my wife!”  (Gerard) “I don’t care!”

Rank: 57 out of 60

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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