The Fugitive (1993): Breakdown by Rutledal
A doctor’s wife is murdered. He says a one-armed man did it, but everyone believes it was him and he must prove his innocence while avoiding the law.
Some of you might be familiar with this small movie award show called the Academy Awards, or Oscars for short. Now we at AOBG aren’t the biggest fans of them. Okay I might be, but the site does not embrace them. Why? Because they never acknowledge action movies. Hey, The Reader, FUCK YOU! Well, almost never. But because today is the day when the 2010 nominations are revealed we are going to look at one of the few action movies to ever have been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars: The Fugitive. So let us look at why this movie is a great action movie, but also what made the Academy acknowledge it.
The movie is based on the 1960’s television show of the same name. I’ve never seen any episodes of it so I don’t know how it compares, but from what I understand it strips it down to the basic plot and makes a movie of it. The story goes as follows: respected something surgeon Richard Kimble comes home one night and walks in on a one-armed man bashing his wife’s skull in. The man gets away and Kimble is suspected, tried and convicted of murdering his wife. But while getting transported to prison he escapes. Now he must find his wife’s killer and untangle the mystery behind her death while U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard is constantly on his trail.
The movie is directed by Andrew Davis, the director of some of Steven Seagal’s best films like Under Siege and the only Chuck Norris ever to get a majority of positive reviews, Code of Silence. This, however, serves as both the highlight and the end of a great run for Davis, who still is one of the most underrated action directors around. Despite picking up many big nominations for his directing in this he was, in the end snubbed (at least in my opinion), when the Oscars came around in favour of someone who did not make an action movie.
So what separates this action movie from your everyday action movie, in an Academy-friendly way? For starters, the characters are regular humans you can connect to. Unlike Rambo or John Matrix who are larger than life heroes that take down entire armies by themselves, Richard Kimble is just a man who has lost everything and wants to get his name cleared and Ford is excellent in the part. If he ever should have gotten a second Oscar nomination this should have been it. The movie also has a great supporting cast and it is here the movie’s real threat is, because Tommy Lee Jones is the difference between this being a good action movie or a great one. His character of Gerard is one of my all time favourites and develops nicely throughout the film. Many people complain about Jones winning an Oscar for this, but I say it was well deserved.
Still the main reason it is one of the few action movies to have made the cut is because it is an action movie with a brain. It’s not about who can kill the most people, but solving a mystery. And in Oscar language that makes it better written and acceptable. So with great performances, a great story, but unfortunately not a lot of action The Fugitive is definitely a movie to check out.
And for some final words let’s hope those old geezers over at the Oscars get around to nominating some action now that they expanded the Best Picture category to 10 movies and fits The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, District 9 and Star Trek in there possibly with a surprise nomination for Crank 2: High Voltage. [Editor’s Note: A guy can dream, can’t he?]
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Harrison Ford is Dr. Richard Kimble
Kimble is not exactly a bonafied badass. When is wife is killed he doesn’t go on a rampage like Paul Kersey or Frank Castle. Well mostly because he is arrested for the murder, but also because that’s not him. Kimble is more of a survivor. He escapes the trickiest situations not always with ease, but that’s also not the point. He’s noble enough to save two people with his medical training despite it blowing his cover. So, smart and noble, a definite yes. Badass… well, he did jump off that dam and that was pretty badass. I’ll say yes, albeit a questionable one.
Tommy Lee Jones is Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard
Gerard is the real badass of the movie. A calculating and ice-cold tracking dog of a man. He would chase Kimble to the end of the world if it was called for, but he also notices that something just isn’t right with Kimble’s case. Plus, he shoots a guy just because he doesn’t bargain with criminals. That’s pretty badass.
[THE BODY COUNT: 6, plus one mentioned]
Ford keeps his score sheet clean, which makes sense since he is trying to get acquitted of murder charges, while Jones takes down one. The highest count is a split between the one-armed man Kimble is looking for and prison bus guard who is a little eager with his shotgun.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING]
This section will ruin the “big” surprise of the movie if you read it.
When Kimble finally learns the whole truth about his wife’s death he storms a convention where the real villain, Dr. Nichols, is speaking and publicly accuses him of changing test results. This leads to a fight between the two that moves all around the hotel where the convention is, from Nichols’ office to the roof through an elevator shaft, and ends in some sort of laundry room. Despite the fact that one of them hits like a twelve year old girl (Ford) and the other one has the tits of one (Krabbe), watching Dr. Nichols get his sly smile literally beaten of his face is justice being served.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
There is some, very limited, shirtless action, but nothing to write home about. Also, one of the detectives on Gerard’s team has a ponytail, but Gerard tells him not to let any one give him any shit about it, so I won’t, because quite frankly Tommy Lee Jones scares me a little.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Well, Kimble’s wife gets brutally beaten to death, so it has that going for it. Besides that, there aren’t many big female roles here. Julianne Moore is in there somewhere, but her role was cut for pacing. Honestly, that’s all it has.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
The bus taking Kimble to prison has a little accident involving its driver getting shot in the head with a shotgun and ends up on the tracks of an approaching train. Kimble escapes at the last moment only to have the train jump of its tracks and nearly kill him. It’s a pretty intense action sequence and is definitely the movie’s finest.
Tommy Lee Jones has a lot of great lines in this movie. In fact he has all the best lines, but this has to be the best.
Kimble: I didn’t kill my wife.
Gerard: I don’t care!
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
If someone is willing to risk their life in order to prove they didn’t kill their wife, you might want to consider the possibility that they are innocent.
[THE CHECKLIST: 10 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Factory/Warehouse *
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation [Helicopter]
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s) **
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[ ] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[ ] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [St. Patrick’s Day]
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s) ***
[X] Vigilante Justice
* Dam pipes
** He starts the movie with a beard, then shaves it. I’m counting it.
*** The whole damn movie is a chase and it involves vehicles.