Dr. Richard Kimble, Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, and the one-armed man are back, looking better than ever thanks to a new (and finally awesome) HD transfer from Warner Home Video.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, Spanish 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hr. 10 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 09/03/2013
With an esteemed career and a beautiful, loving wife, the brilliant Chicago surgeon Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is a man who wants for nothing. His life takes a tragic turn, however, when he comes home to find his wife dying from a brutal assault, and then is attacked himself. Though Kimble manages to avoid being killed as well, the perpetrator gets away and leaves behind no evidence. The only physical description the doctor can provide to the police is the man had one arm, but with little else to go on, the authorities quickly set their sights on Kimble as the chief suspect.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Ultimately convicted for first-degree murder, Kimble is en route to prison when his fellow inmates stage an escape attempt. The plan is successful, but far from flawless, though it does give the doctor an opportunity. Faced with surrendering to authorities and a death sentence, Kimble goes on the run, hoping to clear his name by digging into the evidence detectives overlooked.
But hot on his heels are the U.S. Marshals, led by Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), the personification of dogged. Though he’s wholly uninterested in Kimble’s alleged injustices, Gerard quickly learns his quarry is just as relentless as he eludes capture at every turn, operating on a combination of quick wits and dumb luck. Eventually, Gerard sees he’s not chasing an ordinary escapee but a man who may actually be innocent, his thirst for justice gradually shifting Gerard’s alliances from pursuer to potential ally.
In today’s reboot and remake-happy moviemaking environment, a film like Andrew Davis’ The Fugitive seems like par for the course, but at one time, making a film based on a highly popular, 30-year old TV show was considered a questionable move. Perhaps it’s because of the perceived risk that the filmmakers put so much effort into casting the project, enlisting not just one, but two top-notch actors to portray opposing, but equally sympathetic characters. Considering Ford and Jones actually spend very little screen time together, it’s also a credit to the storytelling and editing that their cat-and-mouse chemistry is as memorable as it is. The central mystery behind the one-armed man also doesn’t disappoint; even having watched the film numerous times now, the sense of satisfaction about the what, why and who remain utterly effective, if not incredibly relevant. Certainly, the story pushes the boundaries of plausibility at times, particularly in the final act, but by then the film has earned so much dramatic and emotional capital with audiences, they can’t help but follow along.
Given the few number of remakes that have actually met or exceeded the quality of their inspirational material, it’s clear The Fugitive remains the exception rather than the rule in the remake sub-genre. Unfortunately, studios won’t take this as a cue to proceed with caution, but instead keep trying to capture lightning in a bottle.
Framed at 1.78:1 (a modification from the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1) and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer shows a major improvement over the 2006 release, which was riddled with problems. Viewers well acquainted with the old transfer’s mosquito noise, aliasing, and combing, among other issues, will be relieved to finally see the movie set free, with contrast, color, black levels and resolution all looking impeccable across the board, with nary a sign of digital artifacting. There’s a bit of softness here and there, but it’s inherent to the source material – the result of focusing errors or just the state of 1990s-era visual effects. It’s hard to believe the film went for so long with such a poor presentation, but at least things are now as they should be.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The audio options get a less dramatic, but no less appreciated upgrade, going from Dolby Digital 5.1 to DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue in the lossless track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround effects can be quite aggressive, and even startling as with the opening credits sequence, producing an engaging and often tense aural experience that perfectly complements the visuals. LFE and upper bass frequencies are measured but effective, showing up as expected in an early, pivotal action sequence but also lending support to the film score and other environmental cues.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
The extras include items from previous releases, along with a couple new pieces, though neither are particularly worth repeat viewings.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Introduction by Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford (1:52, SD)
Commentary by Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones
The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase (28:21, HD): New, retrospective documentary interviews all the major players and includes some amusing anecdotes, an interesting, if somewhat debatable comparison to Les Miserables, and a look at the production process from development to distribution.
On the Run with the Fugitive (23:06, SD): Older documentary hits on many of the same points as above.
Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck (8:55, SD): An overview of the filming and visual effects work behind the jaw-dropping set piece.
The Fugitive TV Pilot (45:28, HD): Produced by Arnold Kopelson and Warner Bros., the series aired on CBS in the 2000-2001 TV season and starred Tim Daly as Kimble and Mykelti Williamson as Gerard.
Theatrical Trailer (2:02, SD)
For The Fugitive’s 20th anniversary (has it really been that long?), Warner Home Video delivers a fantastic upgrade in high definition picture quality that finally allows collectors to get rid of the horrendous Blu-ray edition from 2006. With the incorporation of lossless audio and addition of a couple new extras, it makes for an easy title to recommend, both as a repeat and first time purchase.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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