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
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
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