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The running men
on December 11, 2006
More than a decade on, The Fugitive holds up surprisingly well, managing to neatly avoid the usual pitfalls of TV-series-to-movie crossovers by opting to tell a single self-contained story rather than trying to set up a new franchise. Thus Harrison Ford's Richard Kimble doesn't go on the road helping strangers resolve their problems because he's too busy trying to evade capture, prove his innocence and catch his wife's killer, making for an entirely satisfying manhunt thriller that stands on its own merits. Chief among them is Tommy Lee Jones, taking over from a dying Richard Jordan and walking off with the movie as his dogged pursuer, getting all the best lines and effortlessly outshining the film's star.
Structurally the follow-up, U.S. Marshals, is a reworking of the original, fulfilling the classic sequel brief of "the same but different": the producers substitute an incredibly impressive plane crash for the incredibly impressive train crash, a fall from a tall building for a fall from a dam and government defense secrets for drugs trials while throwing in the same plot device of an ally who turns out to be an enemy. The main difference here is no Harrison Ford, more Tommy Lee Jones and added Wesley Snipes (presumably on the run from the taxman) and Robert Downey Jr. (who really should have kept the sunglasses on until he finished rehab). There are no surprises, it's somewhat overlong and you won't remember it a day later, but it's energetically directed by Stuart Baird and superbly edited by Terry Rawlings and does its job effectively enough while you're watching it.