The 1993 big screen adaptation of The Fugitive got a Blu-ray released back in 2006 with video and audio transfers that were not well received by fans and critics. Such a popular and acclaimed film deserved a better presentation on high definition media. With the movie turning twenty this year, it’s the perfect time for the movie to get that much needed upgrade by way of The Fugitive: 20th Anniversary Edition, which released on Blu-ray this month.
ABC ran the original TV series of The Fugitive from 1963 through 1967 and introduced the world to Dr. Richard Kimble, a physician wrongly accused and convicted of murdering his wife. David Janssen played Kimble in the original series and took audiences on a sprawling chase as he attempted to evade the authorities for four seasons, while searching for his wife’s real killer. Harrison Ford took up the Kimble mantle in 1993 for the film adaptation written by Jeb Stuart and David Twohy and directed by Andrew Davis. Ford’s performance as Kimble is cunning and careful and elevates an already classic character into a new arena of entertainment.
The Fugitive opens with flashbacks to the murder of Helen Kimble (Sela Ward). Her husband Richard returns home to find the crime in progress, and he startles her killer, a mysterious one armed man (Andreas Katsulas) who flees the scene. Prompted by unfortunate coincidences, a lack of proof of the existence of the one armed man, and circumstantial evidence pointing to the husband, an unsympathetic jury convicts Dr. Richard Kimble of murder, and he is well on his way to Death Row within the first few minutes of the movie. A tremendous wreck between his prison bus and a train sets Kimble loose, and he flees into the night, determined to clear his name and to find his wife’s real killer.
Hot on Kimble’s trail is a team of U.S. Marshals led by Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones in an Academy Award winning role). Jones’s Gerard is a dogged pursuer and acts as the perfect counterpoint to Ford’s Kimble. Both men are intelligent and driven, and the balance of The Fugitive is especially fascinating because both the protagonist and his antagonist are good men trying to do what is right. After the initial escape, the rest of the movie is a tense pursuit that has Kimble leading Gerard on a game of cat and mouse while both men dig deeper into Helen Kimble’s murder.
The Fugitive was an immensely enjoyable production when it was released, and it has aged surprisingly well in the two decades since. The movie is tightly directed and edited, but the key element that makes the film shine is the acting power loaded into it. Both Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones bring their A-games to their roles, and the antagonism tempered by respect makes their chase one of the most emotional and memorable ones you’ll find. The one armed man plays an important role in the story despite not having nearly as much screen time as the two leads. Even with a relatively smaller role, the key villain is suitably and memorably wicked, acted by the immensely talented Andreas Katsulas whom sci-fi fans will remember as Ambassador G’kar from Babylon 5.
This anniversary release of The Fugitive includes the special features from the earlier Blu-ray, beefed up with one brand new featurette presented for the first time here alongside the full pilot episode of the 2000 attempted WB reboot of the TV series. The two new features round out the extras to make an impressive package.
- The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase – A new half hour retrospective documentary about the film featuring the cast and crew
- Introduction by Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford – A very brief intro piece that was included on the previous release
- Commentary by Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones – Full, feature-length audio commentary
- On the Run with The Fugitive – Behind the scenes featurette that runs approximately twenty minutes
- Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck – A look at the practical effects that went into creating the crash scene from the beginning of the movie
- Theatrical Trailer
If you’re looking for a suspenseful and thrilling action film that is smarter than the vast majority of today’s crop of action flicks and that showcases fantastic acting, you can’t go wrong with The Fugitive. Even after twenty years it’s still every bit as great a movie as it was when it first hit theaters. This new Blu-ray reissue cleans up the problems that plagued the 2006 Blu-ray, making this anniversary edition the one to own. The Fugitive: 20th Anniversary Edition released on Blu-ray on September 3, 2013, and is in stores now.