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U.S. Marshals

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: U.S. Marshals

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes
Director: Stuart Baird
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: March 1998
Genres: Action, Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Robert Downey Jr., Lorenzo Clemons, Irene Jacob, Joe Pantoliano, Latanya Richardson, Ray Toler, Kate Nelligan

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

If you drop in a few minutes late to THE FUGITIVE, PART II, actually titled U.S. MARSHALS, don't be surprised if it looks like CON AIR, PART II. But you don't want to be tardy to U.S. MARSHALS since you'll miss the opportunity to laugh at the movie's most ridiculous scene -- Tommy Lee Jones dressed up in a big, yellow chicken suit as his disguise in the picture's opening bust.

Tommy Lee Jones as Chief Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard and his crew are back to track down another fugitive. Acting with so much camaraderie that they seem more like a sports team than law enforcement officers, they possess enough adrenaline and drive to follow criminals all over the globe, or at least the United States.

Whereas last time we had a combination bus and train wreck, this time it takes a spectacular air disaster to free Sam's future prey. Acting against type, Wesley Snipes plays a resourceful prisoner named Sheridan, who killed two U.S. secret agents from an organization called the DSS.

EXECUTIVE DECISIONS's director Stuart Baird demonstrates ample skill in staging the action sequences for maximum effect. Equally notable is his restraint in not over using them to move the storyline along. Although the fast-paced show contain some great special effects, the simpler ones are even better. The story reaches maximum tension in a tightly choreographed sequence in which Sam's team walk along trailing a series of bagmen on busy Manhattan sidewalks. This scene also best shows off editor Terry Rawlings's talents in dazzling but never confusing the audience.

Andrzej Bartkowiak's cinematography deserves special mention. Never have the majestic skyscrapers of Chicago and Manhattan looked lovelier as they glisten in the sunlight.

In the movie's weaker department, writer John Pogue's script needs cleaning up. Some characters, most notably Sam's boss, played without genuine emotion by Kate Nelligan, merely clutter up the narrative without adding value. Another wasted role is that of Sheridan's girlfriend, who serves absolutely no purpose at all. (Well, her character's job does generate the movie's most blatant product promotion.)

In contrast, Robert Downey Jr. gives one of his best performances in some time as John Royce, a DSS agent, whom Sam is forced to add to his team for the big hunt. John, with his big, shiny, nickel-plated handgun, his undertaker blue suit and his ubiquitous notebook computer, looks so out of place that the contrast between Sam and him becomes the movie's ongoing visual joke. The negative chemistry between Sam and John provides some of the show's best tension and humor. Downey's acting is especially remarkable for its steely passion and total focus. Although Downey's character is not a comical one, he gets as many good one-liners as does Jones in his leading role.

The story takes the time to show the crew's fatigue after days without sleep. But the script does suffer the problem of most of today's thrillers, delivering highly predictable and equally unnecessary twists at the end. A more straightforward chase picture would have been better. And why, oh why does the lead always feel a need to go mano a mano with the killer? Hold that backup. He's got to go after him alone.

U.S. MARSHALS runs 1:55. It is rated PG-13 for violence and language and would be fine for kids around ten and up.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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