Dr. Richard Kimble, after escaping police custody has only one option. It is a very risky one, but if he is successful, it will grant him his freedom. He can hunt down the real killer, a one-armed man, and not only vindicate himself, but bring his wife’s murderer to justice. A major obstacle to his search for the ‘one-armed man’ is that while trying to find the identity and whereabouts of the murderer, he must be constantly trying to evade law enforcement officials; and most especially Deputy Marshall Samuel Gerard, whose relentless pursuit of Kimble has become an obsession. If captured, he will be returned to death row, where he will await his execution for the brutal murder of his wife, a crime he didn’t commit. Directed by Andrew Davis (Holes), the gripping, thrilling, and suspenseful “The Fugitive” premiered on August 6, 1993. The 130 minute film is a mixture of a number of different genres – action, adventure, crime, mystery, and thriller. Based on characters created by Roy Huggins (U.S. Marshals), for the television show of the same name which ran from 1963 through 1967, the movie was written for the screen by Jeb Stuart (Die Hard) and David Twohy (Timescape), who also wrote the story.
The intelligent and resourceful surgeon Kimble is portrayed by Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Harrison Ford (Raiders of the Lost Ark). He arrives home one evening, after operating, to find his wife Helen (Sela Ward) dying. The only good thing for Kimble during that time frame of supreme tragedy is that the killer (Andreas Katsulas) is still inside his home. A struggle ensues between the doctor and the murderer, a man who has a prosthetic arm, but the killer manages to flee the scene of the crime. Afterwards, Kimble desperately attempts to revive his wife, but it is too late.
The police conduct an investigation in which all of the evidence points to Kimble’s guilt. He is interrogated by detectives, but unfortunately for Ford’s character, the one-armed man is nowhere to be found. The police are of the opinion that Dr. Kimble is lying to them, and arrest him. A trial takes place, of which only a small portion is shown to the viewer, which leads to Richard being convicted and sentenced to death. Resigned to his fate, Kimble is transported by bus to the prison that will serve as his home for the remainder of his days. During that trip, some prisoners have already decided jail is not for them. An escape attempt is hatched, which leads to a heart-pounding accident. The bus winds up on the train tracks, with a freight train headed straight for it. The crash winds up giving Dr. Kimble a chance to escape.
Richard is able to evade capture and make his way to a hospital. While there, he treats a wound he sustained while fleeing the accident, and has a short respite of time to re-group. He shaves off his beard, gets something quick to eat, removes the prison garb he is wearing, changing into regular clothes, and puts greater distance between himself and his pursuers by leaving in a hospital ambulance. Kimble is making his way back to Chicago where the film began, in order to start his quest to clear his name. (As an aside, the role of Dr. Richard Kimble was first offered to Alec Baldwin; Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia and Nick Nolte were all considered for the part as well before Harrison Ford signed on to play the character.)
Hunting Kimble with a passionate zeal is Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black), in an Academy Award winning performance for Best Supporting Actor as the character of the diligent, and equally intelligent, Deputy Marshal, Samuel Gerard. The only thing that Jones’s character cares about is completing his mission, and brining in Kimble, dead or alive. He is not interested in the man’s claims of innocence, which is made perfectly evident, during one scene in the early part of the film, where Kimble dives off of a dam into a waterfall, rather than surrender to Gerard.
As Ford’s character attempts to solve the mystery of his wife’s murder, he leaves clues for the Marshalls as to his true intentions. Kimble begins to methodically break down Gerard’s lack of compassion as it pertains to his guilt or innocence to the point where Gerard begins to use his team to conduct his own investigation to determine if Richard is telling the truth. Gerard has a wide array of man power at his disposal, but the film only focuses in on several of the deputies assisting him: Cosmo Renfro (Joe Pantoliano), Biggs (Daniel Roebuck), Newman (Tom Wood), and Poole (L. Scott Caldwell. Jeroen Krabbe (The Living Daylights) is cast as Dr. Charles Nicholas, a man who is purportedly a friend of Dr. Kimble, who only wants to help him, but doesn’t know how. Dr. Nicholas might not be all that he seems. In addition, the movie features several short, but important scenes with “Golden Globe” winner, Jane Lynch (Glee) as the character of Doctor Kathy Wahlund. Rounding out the cast is Academy Award nominated actress, Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) as Dr. Anne Eastman. She plays a small role, but one that helps to further paint Dr. Kimble in a positive light. She informs Gerard that Kimble helped to save a young boy’s life. He had been at a Chicago hospital attempting to find out information about the one armed man, and noticed the order on the boy’s chart was wrong, so he fixed it.
Will Richard Kimble get the necessary information that will help to exonerate him and bring his wife’s murderer to justice? Does Gerard capture Kimble before he has a chance to gather the evidence that will secure his freedom? Does Richard get put to death for a crime he didn’t commit, while others go free? Is the illusive one-armed man ever caught? Who or what was behind the reason for the one-armed-man killing Kimble’s wife in the first place? All of those questions and more will be answered if you invest the little over two hours it takes to watch this cinematic thrill ride.