Movie time now, with two movies on this tape, one a firm favourite of mine, the other one I’ve still yet to watch.
The Fugitive didn’t have to be a good film. Films based on old TV properties have a chequered past. Dragnet was pretty lacklustre, and I don’t know anyone who liked Sgt Bilko. So The Fugitive could have gone either way. But director Andrew Davis had just made the one proverbial good Steven Seagal movie in Under Siege, and the casting was top notch, with Harrison Ford as Richard Kimball, the husband wrongly accused of his wife’s brutal murder, and Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard, the US Marshal who has to track him down.
But the real reason this film is so good has to be the script, by Jeb Stuart (one of the writers on Die Hard) and David Twohy, who would write Pitch Black, and also wrote the highly entertaining Warlock. Their script is full of lovely moments, especially among Jones and his team. You can tell that despite his barked orders and gruff manner, he cares about all his team.
The story is credited to Twohy alone, which implies that he was the original writer, and Stuart was a rewriter.
By the way, this film has six credited film editors. I wonder if it had a compressed post-production schedule.
The opening of the movie is cleverly structured. It cuts between Kimball’s interrogation by police, and the trial, back to the night of the murder. It’s a good structure because it assures the audience of his innocence, so we can share in the injustice in his conviction.
Then we cut to Ford in shackles, on his way to prison, in a bus full of other convicts, when an escape attempt goes wrong and the bus ends up across a railway track, leading to one of the film’s big setpieces, as Kimball escapes the train just in the nick of time. The effects here are very good, a nice mix of miniatures and (I’m guessing) some front projection.
After another breathless chase in the drains of a dam, Kimball eludes Gerard after a face-to-face confrontation – almost their only one in the movie. Then the film settles down a bit – although there’s a nice fake-out where we’re led to think that they know where he is, set up a raid on the house he’s staying in, then it turns out it’s one of the other inmates who escaped from the bus.
The tone of the movie then changes, as Kimball turns detective himself, searching the hospital records for a trace of the one-armed man who killed his wife.
There’s a couple of famous faces at the hospital – Glee’s Jane Lynch plays a colleague of his.
And Julianne Moore plays a doctor at the hospital in which Kimball is hunting for the one-armed man.
And, of course, the one-armed man himself is played by Andreas Katsulas, Ambassador G’Kar off of Babylon 5.
After another tense cat and mouse scene where Kimball is almost caught by Gerard, he finds his way to the one-armed man’s house, and finds evidence that links him with a drug manufacturer. From there he traces the conspiracy to a surprising source close to home. He overcomes the one-armed man in a good fight in a train car, then goes on to confront the true mastermind behind his wife’s murder, leading to a tense encounter on a hotel roof and i the hotel laundry – always a good location for a chase, with lots of things to hide behind, and the potential for severe injury in industrial equipment. Poor Joe Pantoliano gets a steel girder in the face for his troubles during this sequence.
There’s an odd fireworks sequence, towards the end of the credits. It doesn’t appear to have any narrative function, and it’s only 20 seconds long. Perhaps they liked it so much they couldn’t bear not to use it.
After The movie, recording switches, and we get the end credits of Tonya and Nancy: The Inside Story.
Then we have The Big Blue, Luc Besson’s film about divers. Jean Reno and Jean Marc Barr are boyhood friends, both free divers. Rosanna Arquette is an insurance agent (possibly a loss adjuster, it’s unclear) who meets Barr in the arctic, then contrives to meet him again in Sicily where the world champion free diving is taking place. Reno is the world champion, but wants Barr to compete, for some macho competitive reason. He also falls for Arquette, but she prefers Barr.
Griffin Dunne pops up in a small role, to remind us that Rosanna Arquette has been in better films.
The film consists of the two divers competing in the world championships in several places over an unspecified period of time. Nobody says anything of consequence, or indeed does anything of consequence, until the depths they dive to become too deep for the human body to tolerate.
Luc Besson, the director, might as well have made The Big Yellow, in which two men compete in pissing contests in various picturesque towns in Europe, and the overall effect would have been the same.
There are dolphins, though.
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