Director Andrew Davis, who’d previously been known for directing such action fare as the B-grade Steven Seagal action films Above the Law (1988) and Under Siege (1992) to the reigns for this now iconic remake of the 1960s TV series The Fugitive. The film stars Harrison Ford, fresh off his run in the original Indiana Jones trilogy and the political thriller Patriot Games, as Dr. Richard Kimble, a prominent surgeon accused and convicted of murdering his wife escapes from custody and leads U.S. Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) and his crew on a nationwide manhunt.
Filled with numerous set pieces that combine both adventure and crime thriller, such as a death defying jump from a dam into waters below, chases across rooftops, and a conspiracy subplot involving a one-armed killer and a new pharmaceutical drug, the film, courtesy of Davis and cinematographer Michael Chapman, is a thrill a minute and a visual feast. The effects, for their time, are quite spectacular, such as the initial getaway during a trail derailment, just to name one.
Tommy Lee Jones is also to be commended for being able to bring the perfect balance of humor and curmudgeonliness to his role as the hard-boiled U.S. Marshall hot on the trail of Dr. Kimball. As the film unfolds, and the conspiracy theory unwinds, we don’t even care much about the lunacy of a group of men chasing down a phantom one-armed killer as much as we enjoy the ride to the conclusion.
The Fugitive has been newly remastered for this 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release and comes with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Warner. It is a huge improvement over the original 2006 release, the year the Blu-ray Disc format was launched. This was one of the more disappointing titles of that launch year, being plagued with edge enhancement, video noise, and stairstepping. All of those issues have been addressed on this release, although the very opening scene that pans across the city skyline at night does leave one feeling a bit trepidatious. Some film softness remains and the colors look somewhat washed out, but the image is natural in appearance and no signs of aliasing appear.
The original 2006 Blu-ray release of The Fugitive from Warner Home Video had no lossless or uncompressed audio option on it, only the lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1. A remastered English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) track is supplied with this 20th Anniversary Edition release that is a clear step up in audio quality. It sounds fuller and a little less tizzy than the previous edition, but some of the harshnesses in the high end still remains, and one can still clearly hear some distortion in the louder audio effects. As for the overall quality of the mix itself, it’s fine, but not an A-level mix. Some of the panning of effects to the sides and surrounds seems out of place and there are “holes” in the overall balance that at times make it almost sound like a reprocessed mix.
Two new features have been added to this 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray over the previous 2006 release (demarcated below). They include an all-new HD featurette with the cast and crew speaking on the now iconic and influential film, plus the pilot episode of the 2000 TV series based on the film.
- Behind the Scenes: Introduction by Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford (1.78:1; SD; 00:01:52)
- (NEW) Behind the Scenes: The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:28:21)
- Behind the Scenes: On the Run with The Fugitive (1.33:1; SD; 00:23:06)
- Behind the Scenes: Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck (1.33:1; SD;00:08:55)
- (NEW) Short Feature: The Fugitive TV Pilot (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:45:28)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; SD)
- Commentary by Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones
The Definitive Word
The Fugitive was one of the great thrillers of the ’90s and it has stood the test of time. It’s an infinitely re-watchable piece of ’90s escapism tied together by tight direction and visuals from director Andrew Davis and strong performances from Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s about time Warner got around to remastering the Blu-ray release, which was truly horrendous. This new, 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is a big step up in picture quality.