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Rated 3.02 stars
by 272 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Finding the Hidden Pulse
by Richard Jack Smith

Six editors are credited with piecing together The Fugitive, yet the film never feels choppy or inconsistent in the slightest. Harrison Ford turns in another signature performance as Dr. Richard Kimble, an ordinary guy unjustly framed for the murder of his wife Helen (played by Sela Ward). U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) makes it his number one priority to find the fugitive. With the net closing in tighter all the time, Kimble continues his search to locate the “one-armed man” who killed his wife.     

Thematically, the idea of an elusive individual being chased after by the local law enforcement could sound constrictive, but the opposite seems true here. Limitations are a tremendous resource for any thriller director. It creates a scope that feels very personal in nature without extraneous characters clogging up the screen time. The original source material, a television series, adapts well to the much broader cinema screen. Writers Jeb Stuart and David Twohy have taken a simple premise and poured as much suspenseful energy into it as possible.       

Ford left me wondering about his character’s abrupt exit at the end of Witness (1985). The moment just sat there, unfulfilled. There’s no such frustration with his part as Kimble. This may be the one performance in a much lauded career which truly defines him. Even in Blade Runner (1982), he was overshadowed by the crafty Rutger Hauer. With The Fugitive, it’s all about Ford – his reactions, his plans, his anxieties – that is the movie.      

Jones constantly invents new ways of making his character more accessible to the audience. He even manages to work in some humour on occasion. Overall, his performance is terrific.     

James Newton Howard’s music starts off in a dreary state, yet it soon establishes an interesting rhythm. The highly percussive nature of the theme has a tendency to grate. Still, the score works in the context of the film without being especially ground-breaking.    

A former cameraman, Chicago born director Andrew Davis maintains an iron grip over the proceedings. Action films in general are so much about easing the anxiety at a certain point, whereas The Fugitive works in an entirely different way as a visceral experience. From the riveting, prison bus escape sequence right through to the end, you are left in a perpetual state of anticipation. What could be coming next? Ford may be the luckiest man alive in certain situations where his character escapes. If he wasn’t, the plot would end before the start of act 2 and there would be no film. Therefore, it takes the inventive mind of an artist (as opposed to technician) like Davis to ratchet up each moment to the highest level. When correctly edited, the result can feel like a tour de force. That’s an appropriate description of The Fugitive’s power to entertain.

(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "PG-13" by MPAA.)

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