The Fugitive: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

fugitive-bdWarner Bros. Home Entertainment will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Academy Award-nominated (1993 for Best Picture) The Fugitive with a new anniversary Blu-ray edition. The heart-pounding thriller stars Harrison Ford as wrongly-convicted Dr. Richard Kimble and Tommy Lee Jones in his Oscar and Golden Globe winning performance as Kimble’s relentless pursuer.  Kimble, who has been unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer, and the reasons for the slaying, before he’s captured thanks to a nationwide manhunt led by tenacious United States Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard.  This is one of Harrison Ford’s best films and it also represents the best representation of director Andrew Davis’ career.  Tommy Lee Jones’ memorable award winning role as Gerard was also justifiably acclaimed too.  If you haven’t seen this thriller, you should correct that right now with this new edition that offers a lot more extras than the previous release!  



The Fugitive was a massive critical and commercial triumph for both Harrison Ford and director Andrew Davis. Considering that the movie was based on an old television show which historically usually leads to disaster, the fact that the film worked at all is impressive.  The Fugitive went even beyond that however, as it surpassed its origins and became one of the biggest hits of the nineties, got nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, and even spawned a lesser sequel (U.S. Marshals read my review here) that didn’t benefit from the star power of Harrison Ford.

The movie’s plot is very similar to the television show’s where Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) comes home one night to find his wife Helen (Sela Ward) fatally wounded by a one-armed man (Andreas Katsulis).  Despite Kimble’s efforts to subdue the intruder, the one-armed man escapes which leaves Kimble as the prime suspect when Helen dies and leaves behind a large insurance payout for him.  It also doesn’t help Kimble that a 911 call is misinterpreted during his trial which contributes to his eventual sentencing to death row for the murder of his wife.

It’s on his way to prison, that the film really kicks into gear when some of the prisoners on the bus attempt to escape which during the fight for control makes the bus go off the road and into the path of an oncoming train.  That train-wreck still stands as one of the best of its kind ever caught on film that was done practically and without CG effects. Now freed from the bus and on the run, Kimble is now the main target for the U.S. Marshal manhunt that’s being led by Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) along with his team of Renfro (Joe Pantoliano), Biggs (Daniel Roebuck), Poole (L. Scott Caldwell), and newbie Newman (Tom Wood).  Kimble attempts to return to Chicago to clear his name but he doesn’t know where to go or who to trust, while Gerard continues to close in and the cat and mouse game between the men begins.

From listening to all of those involved in the making of the movie in this disc’s extras, The Fugitive had some serious script issues throughout the production, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the finished movie.  Most of the time, when that happens the final result shows its troubled history on the screen, but in this instance it only made everyone work harder to make the best movie they could.  From the beginning, everyone knew that there was something special about the movie if they could just whittle it down to its core essence that made it so appealing to everyone. Director Andrew Davis was brought on to the movie by Harrison Ford after Davis’ movie Under Siege had turned out so well.  By this point, Davis knew how to make a smart thriller that could balance tension and humor to deliver a great viewing experience, but he perfected it with The Fugitive.  The movie never stops to take a breath and even the exposition at the start of the movie is dealt with during the credits so when the movie starts Dr. Richard Kimble is just minutes away from becoming “the fugitive” in question.

Special mention must be made of superstar Harrison Ford’s performance as Kimble, which in my opinion should have garnered an eighth Oscar nomination for the film at the very least if not the award itself for Best Actor.  Ford is always overlooked by a snobby Academy, with the one exception of his nomination for Witness.  He should have gotten nominations for The Mosquito Coast, Presumed Innocent, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and for this movie as well. Ford makes Kimble both prideful yet vulnerable and within seconds, the audience is rooting for him right away.  Not too many other actors can engender that kind of rapport with audiences but he does it better than anyone.  When Kimble is standing on the edge of a dam deciding whether or not he should jump to an almost certain doom just to have a chance to escape, you can see the thought process on Ford’s face, his body language, and in his eyes.  He brings out the character’s intelligence and humanity and it’s a travesty that the movie was basically nominated for everything else but him.

Tommy Lee Jones however, did benefit from the movie as he won Best Supporting Actor and his first Oscar thanks to his performance as U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, a role that he would go on to reprise in a lesser sequel U.S. Marshals. Jones totally deserved his award as he’s absolutely fantastic as the relentless Gerard who will not let anything stand between himself and capturing Kimble.  Even though the audience is rooting for Kimble, Jones is so good and his character is so determined to capture his elusive prey, that the audience ends up kind of rooting for him too.  It’s a weird dynamic to have basically two protagonists running on a parallel track but the two actors are so good that it works.  While Kimble is on a quest for justice, Gerard is simply looking to enforce the law.  Even when he begins to have some empathy for Kimble, it won’t stop him from doing all he can to catch him.

The rest of the supporting cast are also good especially Joe Pantoliano who made sure that his character wasn’t killed so he could be available for any sequel.  The city of Chicago is also a character in this movie and every location has some character of its own.  This is an incredible movie that’s filled with propulsive energy that doesn’t let up.  It’s brilliantly directed and there’s several action sequences like the train wreck, or Kimble’s escape from Gerard at the courthouse that are still impressive to see.  I still believe it’s Andrew Davis’ best film to date and it’s also one of the highlights in the careers of Ford and Jones who both seem to still be very proud of the film.  If you are looking for a fun, tense, and exciting thriller, then you need to check this movie out!



This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer looks much better than my HD-DVD and DVD versions which is a relief because I’ve been cursing their poor quality for years.  The detail is much better and the colors in the film stand out more than they did before.  Another huge change is the look of the nighttime scenes which are filled with so much electronic noise in the previous versions that you can barely tell what’s even going on.  I’m happy to report that that’s been cleaned up a lot.  The contrast is also much better in this new transfer as well as the black levels.  If you were wondering whether or not it was worth upgrading to this new Blu-ray like I was, let me just say that between this new transfer and the new extras it’s totally worth it.



The Fugitive’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also very good which you can tell right away during the credits themselves. Sequences like the train wreck or the St. Patrick’s Day parade show off just how powerful and atmospheric the mix is. There’s a lot of cross channel activity and it all sounds accurate and well balanced.  The dialogue is clear and clean sounding even during scenes of action and the rear channels offer some very believable ambience.  This mix also provides us with the best sounding version of composer James Newton Howard’s great score for the film.  If you watch the extras, you will get a chance to see just how much of an impact his music made on the film, when they show a clip with and without music. Although this isn’t the best sounding mix I’ve heard, it is much better than the previous versions and very solid mix that brings the movie to life.



This 20th Anniversary Edition includes the extras from the previous releases and adds two new ones to make it even better.  Those two new ones, “The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase” and “The Fugitive: The Pilot” are also in high definition. The rest are all in standard definition.

  • Introduction by Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford (and Tommy Lee Jones) – Don’t be fooled by this title as the three men aren’t even in the same room.  We see Davis in a screening room on the phone with Jones who is in Portland, Oregon while clips of Ford were filmed in Toronto, Canada and spliced into this.  It also appears to be the start of the commentary between Davis and Jones that followed it.
  • Commentary with Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones – The two men talk about the movie (with Jones on the phone) leaving Davis alone in the room.  Davis does most of the talking unless he get Jones to answer a question. We hear about the making of the movie, what it was like to shoot in Chicago, how Julianne Moore’s character arc changed, and more.
  • The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase – This is the extra that we’ve all been waiting for and one that makes it valid to call this release an anniversary edition.   This recently filmed retrospective includes Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Andrew Davis, Joe Pantoliano, Jane Lynch, producer Arnold Kopelson, editor don Brochum and critics Kenneth Turan and Bob Herzberg.  They talk about how the film evolved over time, the script issues, the filming of the movie, how it’s basically an adaptation of Les Miserables, and how they did it all for real without CG.  This runs almost thirty minutes and I loved every second of it.
  • The Fugitive  TV Pilot – This forty-five minute episode isn’t the pilot from the sixties show, but instead it’s for the reboot that happened in 2000 that starred Tim Daly as Kimble and Mykleti Williamson as Lt. Gerard.  This new show seems to follow the premise and format of the previous television show with some nods to the film.  It’s not anywhere near as good as the film or the original show, but it’s nice that it was added as an extra.  I would have preferred to have the pilot from the original show instead though.
  • On the Run with The Fugitive – For an older extras that’s been ported over, there’s a lot of good information included.  I believe this was filmed for the earlier DVD release and we see interviews filmed from different points of time all combined together.  There’s some contemporary (at the time) interviews as well as some vintage ones that have been edited together.  We hear about the entire process of making the film in a nice overview.
  • Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck  – If you’d like to see how the best train wreck was filmed, then you should check this out.  This scenes was filmed entirely for real with no CG  or miniatures which would never happen today. Because of that choice, this sequence has an authenticity to it that can’t be beat.  This stunt could only have one take and it required thirteen cameras to capture it all. 
  • Theatrical Trailer – Film’s trailer in standard definition.



This movie is one of my all time favorites and this new 2oth Anniversary Edition makes up for the previous lackluster releases of the film.  This Blu-ray offers a very nice remastered video transfer and a very strong audio mix along with some excellent extras.  Of course I wanted even more extras, but I was still happy with the new ones that have been added.  This is a must own release!

 Order your copy today!



2 Responses to “The Fugitive: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I LOVE this review Sean! You did this classic of a movie much justice with this BEEFY review! Thanks!

  2. Sean Ferguson

    Thanks Brian! I’m glad you like the review!