It’s odd to think of Tommy Lee Jones as an action hero but U.S Marshals posited him in one of the few times he’d have to save the day. A continuation of his character from The Fugitive, for which he won an Oscar, Marshals is more of a straight up action film than its predecessor. And it suffers as much because of it.
Marshal Sam Gerard (Jones) is now on the hunt for a man who escaped during a bus accident: Mark Roberts (Wesley Snipes). He’s been arrested for a double homicide he claims he didn’t commit. On the lamb, it’s up to Gerard and his crack team as well as a government agent (Robert Downey Jr) to find him and by proxy find out if he actually committed the crime or not. Cris-crossing the country, Roberts and Gerard play a cat and mouse game as Gerard tries to track him down using old fashioned police work while there’s much more to Roberts than meets the eye.
It’s a fairly competent thriller and it gives us Gerard in more of an action setting as opposed to the dramatic setting he was in for The Fugitive. It gives us a different Tommy Lee Jones as he’s more on autopilot than anything else. This is the type of character he’s played fairly regularly, the hardass police officer, and one he’d duplicate any other number of times in other films. It’s just that Gerard has a famous, Oscar worthy pedigree as opposed to being the Tommy Lee Jones stock police officer character that makes U.S Marshals feel like it has a higher ceiling than it has any right to have.
It doesn’t hurt that it has a fairly capable cast but most important of them is Downey Jr. This was the period when Downey hadn’t hit rock bottom personally but had so much talent and presence that he became fascinating to see on screen. It was a train wreck waiting to happen as a tabloid reporter, perhaps, but the man had such a rare gift on screen that you can see why despite his problems he was still getting work then. Even in a film as pedestrian as this he shines; Downey’s talent is undeniable even if his personal life made his professional one that much more difficult.
Outside of Jones and his pedigree, and Downey’s strong performance, this is DTV thriller formula 101 except with a really good cast. It’s perfectly acceptable entertainment but doesn’t achieve anything more than competency.
The same extras from the film’s DVD release are present in the Blu-ray as there’s a piece on the film’s plane crash, another feature, a director’s commentary and the film’s theatrical trailer.
If you already own U.S Marshals and don’t need it in high definition then you won’t need this release.
Warner Bros. presents U.S Marshals . Directed by Stuart Baird. Starring Wesley Snipes, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Downey Jr. Running time: 131 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released: June 5, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: The Fugitive, Tommy Lee Jones