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An appreciation of ‘The Fugitive’ 

Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for, on Andrew Davis’ The Fugitive (1994):

The train crash itself is one of the great action sequences of the nineties, but for my money there are four others that are nearly as good: Kimble eluding Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) in the sewer tunnels a la Jean Valjean in Les Miserables (the inspiration for Roy Huggins’ original TV series); the raid on the house the results in the death of Richard’s fellow escaped prisoner (Eddie Bo Smith, Jr.); Richard’s escape from the Marshals on St. Patrick’s Day; and Richard’s fight on the train with Sykes, a great reminder in this age of wildly overscaled action that all you need to get the audience’s pulses pounding is a good guy and a bad guy whose motives are clear.

It’s worth noting that this film was shot and edited a few months after Oliver Stone’s innovative paranoid thriller “JFK” won an Academy Award for best editing. You can detect the Stone film’s visual signatures in Davis’ flash-cuts, as well as in the brisk yet legible way “The Fugitive” fills in the past and present at the same time. In that opening section, we’re continuously finding out exactly what’s meant by the ominous questions of the Chicago detectives, but in a way that spares “The Fugitive” of the indignity of having to stop the action while somebody delivers a recap.

It’s appropriate that Seitz is running Ebert’s namesake website. Like Ebert, Seitz’s reviews make me desperately want to re-visit the films he writes about.