131 Min. | Action – Crime – Thriller | April 1998
IMDB Rating: 6.5
Director: Stuart Baird
Staring: Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey Jr.
U.S. Marshals Review: The trailer is a pseudo-sequel to ‘The Fugitive’, but don’t think that it’s the same film all over again. ‘US Marshalls’ is a perfect stand-alone film, meaning you can watch this film and enjoy it without having seen ‘The Fugitive’ first. Tommy Lee Jones plays an excellent grizzled US Marshall who’s generally at war with the world. Seeing such a rough-tough character dressed in a chicken suit at the beginning of the film is great comedy. After a plane carrying criminals crash lands on a road, then a river, TLJ takes control and rescues most of the crim’s from drowning-they’re chained in their seats, you see. Next morning, the local incompetent sheriff comes in to ‘take control’. Comedy ensues when the sheriff tries to show his skills – ‘I want you setting up roadblocks in a big, kinda, circle deal.’ Of course, when they find one bad guy missing, the hunt is on!
The FBI also want to help catch this guy, for reasons which become clear whilst watching the film. To help, they assign an agent to the US Marshall team, played by Robert Downy Jr, who isn’t all he seems. The plot revolves around the selling of secrets by the US, and China’s involvement. Wesley Snipes plays a good guy set up for bad reasons, who takes the chance to leg it away from the plane and clear his name. He has a little help from his friends, including his girlfriend who’s part in the film is never made clear. This is also true for the US Marshalls head, who seems to express feelings for TLJ for one sentence, and then plays no further part. This film is definitely a psychological thriller. You have to keep an eye (or two) on the plot and the characters at all times.
Another big flaw is the ‘New Fugitive’ character arc: we don’t know him from the get-go – whereas the premise of the original Fugitive was about an innocent man accused of his wife’s murder and relentlessly tracked down – and then new elements are added that don’t draw a clear picture of who he is – and if he is really innocent! Most notably it is clear soon enough that he is not just your average man: hence empathy and rooting for him can never reach the required level for suspension of disbelief to work. Too bad they rushed such a script into production to poach on the Fugitive real-estate. They didn’t need to have another nice innocent fugitive – especially given this protracted macguffin of a plot. Sam Gerard should have been the sole hero, attempting to stop more than a prisoner on the loose, and we should have had a better insight into the man’s soul.