4K Blu-ray Review: The Fugitive

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

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I honestly forgot how intense a viewing experience The Fugitive delivered. While I can’t lock down a specific date, it must have been decades since I last watched it, and I’m happy to report it holds up incredibly well. The intensity and suspense stems from the pacing of the film, as it’s just unrelenting, but in a proper dramatic, thrilling way.

The way Director Andrew Davis, screenwriters Jeb Stuart and David Twohy, and a skilled team of editors crafted this film, bouncing back and forth between fugitive Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) and U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), creates one of the most captivating and wholly engrossing cat-and-mouse chases ever put on film. This technique allows for the tension to never truly settle, because as soon as one character reaches a point where things may slow down momentarily, we jump back over to the other who is often reacting to what the other has just done.

This dynamic storytelling is one of the main reasons the film went on to be nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. This was back when only five films could be nominated, so that’s a bit of extra credit right there. Jones would be the lone winner of the group, taking home the Best Supporting Actor statue, and he’d also get a spin-off film five years later entitled U.S. Marshals, which saw him and the returning team aim to track down another fugitive trying to prove his innocence. Let’s just focus on the one celebrating its 30th anniversary though.

Yes, it’s been 30 years since The Fugitive, and once again we are the beneficiaries of the celebration, receiving a remastered 4K version of this classic crime thriller. I was just hitting my teenage years when this movie came out, and I saw it theatrically and loved it back then. The realization here is that generations have passed, and there are likely many who haven’t seen, and possibly haven’t even heard of The Fugitive. Sure, it was up for the most prestigious prize in Hollywood back in ’93; however, how many can even name every movie that was up for Best Picture five years ago…heck, even last year?

Yes, sometimes movies slip through the cracks and it’s always a pleasure when you revisit them and see that they’re as good now as they were then. Now, the ‘90s were a time where technology was changing, so there wasn’t the Internet, or cell phones, so the intensity found within this movie is because everyone has to do everything old-school. It’s also why Kimble was arrested and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, as there wasn’t any of that CSI stuff to help prove his innocence.

No, Dr. Richard Kimble’s wife, Helen (Sela Ward) was murdered in the opening moments of the film by a one-armed man, just as Kimble returned home from work. We see all of this in flashbacks, however, as Richard is taken into custody to explain why he has scratch marks on the back of his neck, and his wife’s blood on his shirt. Two incompetent detectives (who you really want to knock some sense into by the end of it!) just want to get home, so they throw the book at him and that’s that.

It’s a really well-designed opening to the film, as we don’t start off slow with Kimble and his wife at a charity event earlier in the night, but instead with Helen being murdered, and Kimble being taken into custody. While he’s describing the events as he remembers them, we’re taken back to the event, and we see why Richard didn’t go home with his wife afterwards. They could’ve easily gone the route of going to the event, introducing the loving couple, them driving home and then Richard getting the call. Then when his wife arrives home we see her murdered right there; however, that just wouldn’t have had the same instant draw that we have here, and it would’ve been a slower start instead of pressing down on the gas right after the title credits flew off the screen.

Harrison Ford is one of my favourite actors of all time, and his work here is often subtle but always spectacular. This isn’t him as Han Solo, Indiana Jones, or even Jack Ryan from Clear and Present Danger the year prior. No, Dr. Richard Kimble is an ordinary man who is put into an extraordinary situation. When he fights the one-armed man at the start of the film, he doesn’t have army training to fall back on, or anything like that. It’s an awkward fight, and Richard barely comes out on top. While there are a few crazy stunts in the film, Richard Kimble isn’t Ethan Hunt, so when he takes a leap of faith out of a storm drain, he doesn’t know if he’ll live, he just knows he has to take the chance to clear his name.

All of these things Ford does beautifully, with nuanced movements, the slightest hesitations before acting, and a look on the face of Kimble at almost every moment letting the audience know that his mind is racing with what to do next to avoid getting caught. Even with this top tier performance, Ford was only nominated for a Golden Globe for his acting in a lead role; with most of the acting accolades going to his co-star Jones. To be fair, it was a powerhouse year in the Lead Actor category, and sometimes that’s just how things go on that front.

I’ll say that Jones is well-deserving of the Oscar for his performance here of a man who will stop at nothing to bring the fugitives he’s tasked with hunting down to justice. He’s a character you can’t take your eyes off of every time he’s on the screen, and while you’re rooting for Kimble to clear his name, you’re also rooting for Gerard to figure out that Kimble is indeed innocent. The duo have fantastic chemistry, and while the majority of their scenes see them in different places, the times they do share the screen together are something special.

The Fugitive looks like a movie from the ‘90s when you watch it, but an exceptional movie from the ‘90s. It’s not a movie that suffers from technological advancements, as the characters and actors are so compelling that we’re drawn into the chase instead of thinking about how much different the outcome likely would’ve been had technology been where it is today. I mean, it’s likely Kimble would’ve had a recording of the break-in and murder, so the movie would be over before it even began! But none of that matters because the storytelling, direction and tempo of the film are so strong.

If you’re like me and it’s been well over 10, if not 20 years since you joined Gerard on his manhunt for Kimble, and Kimble on his quest for justice to locate the one-armed man, then I highly recommend celebrating the film’s anniversary by picking up this remastered 4K Blu-ray and watching the chase in style. If you’ve never seen The Fugitive, well, I recommend you escape from wherever you are at the moment, go get yourself a copy, and let the pursuit begin!

Overall Movie Score: 4.5/5

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:

The 4K remastering of the movie is incredibly strong, as Warner Bros. continues its solid track record with his 4K releases during it’s 100th anniversary celebration. The remastering was overseen by Davis, and as a whole it looks fantastic. The film is very natural in its look; however, Davis makes sure that certain elements stand out where he meant them to, and the details as a whole are rich and plentiful. The lack of CGI and reliance on a more physical style also helps things, as the movie just looks strong from start to finish, with no distracting grain or dirt, and no muddying to be found anywhere.

The Dolby Atmos track is phenomenal, and you hear it right out of the gate during the title track. If you’ve got the surround sound cranked, the title card for Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and The Fugitive that kick off the film all come slamming in with impressive power. It won’t blow your speakers off the wall, but it sets the tone that this 4K release is as close to the theatrical experience for The Fugitive as one can hope for when watching in your living room.

Special Features:

Introduction by Director Andrew Davis, Harrison Ford, and Tommy Lee Jones – You have the option to play this out at the beginning of the movie, and it’s just a quick little interview intercut between the three. Jones is on the phone with Davis, and Ford is elsewhere. It’s less than two minutes long and is just the trio briefly reflecting on their time working on the movie.

Audio Commentary with Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones – Pretty self-explanatory, and a solid duo to have on the track! It’s always nice when an actor is involved with commentary tracks, and Davis and Lee give some fun insight into the film for those who enjoy these tracks.

The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase – This is the biggest feature on the disc coming in at just under 30-minutes in length. It’s a legacy feature, so if you own the previously released 20th anniversary edition than you’ve likely seen it; however, if you don’t then this is a great way to spend half-an-hour, as there’s a lot of opinions and thoughts from a plethora of the cast and crew that worked on the film, and it’s a fun and fast watch.

Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck – This featurette comes in at just under 9-minutes in length and we get a better look into the train wreck scene, which is how Kimble escapes custody in the first place. They talk about how Ford wanted to do his own stunts quite often, and that’s him running away from the train in the scene. It’s another fast watch that’s worth checking out for fans.

On the Run with The Fugitive This is a 23-minute feature that is from an older Blu-ray release, so we do touch on some of the same ground that we did in the updated “Thrill of the Chase” feature; however, it’s still interesting to see the cast and crew talk in-depth about various aspects of the filmmaking process, and can you ever really tire of listening to Ford? Theatrical Trailer – Then we’ve got the trailer for those who enjoy the nostalgia!

Disclaimer: A review copy of this Blu-ray was sent to me to cover in honest and truthful fashion.

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents The Fugitive. Directed by: Andrew Davis. Written by: Jeb Stuart, David Twohy, Roy Huggins. Starring: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbé, Julianne Moore. Running time: 130 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on 4K Blu-ray: Nov. 21, 2023.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.