(Pre-DecentFilms capsule review) Taut, effective serial-chase story, based on the TV series, of Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford), whose wife is murdered by a one-armed man and is himself wrongly accused of the murder. A vehicular accident sets Kimble free, and he spends the rest of the movie fleeing from a crack team of U.S. Marshals commanded by Jones’ Sam Gerard — and pursuing the one-armed man who robbed him of his wife and his life.
Ford exudes decency in the role of the innocent man wrongly accused, as Kimble throughout the movie consistently goes out of his way to help other people at his own expense, regularly risking capture and even death for the sake of others. Best known for playing confident, capable action heroes in the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies, Ford is also remarkably persuasive in the role of the unlikely action hero — the unassuming, nonphysical, white-collar professional who isn’t used to swashbuckling (a role he played also in Frantic and Air Force One).
Jones, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, plays Gerard as a hard-boiled, ultra-competent officer whose initial concern is simply to recapture a fugitive but whose canny instincts gradually lead him to put the pieces together. What makes the repeated chase scenes especially thrilling is that both pursuer and pursued are smart and capable and brave, and neither makes any mistakes; the story doesn’t resort either to making the policeman bumbling and inept or the fugitive merely lucky. You admire and root for them both, and want them to be allies rather than opponents.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.