The Fugitive is part of that family of films I think of as living room popcorn movies. The movies that came out when I was still too young to be going to the theater much, so I’ve never seen them on the big screen, but there’s just something innately popcorny about them. Where even if you’re watching it on TV with your family in your sweatpants on a holiday weekend, even if you’re just watching it alone in your apartment, you’re urging characters on under your breath and exclaiming at all the big fun moments. And whether you’ve seen them once or a thousand times, they always feel recognizable. There’s something safe about these movies, and it’s like that sense of security lets you get completely caught up in them, a cinematic escape even when you’re just in your own living room. Sorry not now, The Fugitive‘s on, and we’re gonna watch the heck out of this.
In this case, I’m in the ‘once’ camp, because this was somehow the first time I’d ever seen this movie. I thought I remembered a scene from it that I wandered past my dad watching at some point, but that scene never occurred, so who knows what I was thinking of. The Fugitive is a classic, it’s beloved, and one of those that renews your faith in the collective taste, because this one really is damn good. Yeah it’s a little long, and like most 2+ hour movies I think it’d actually be stronger if they’d been forced to cut at least 20 minutes, but in a creative way where they don’t lose those sequences of closed-lip, harried tension. They are also not allowed to touch a word of Tommy Lee Jones’ dialogue.
I mean I don’t think this movie is like The Sting, where everyone has to pick either Robert Redford or Paul Newman and if you’re lucky you and your best friend each take a different one and you high five about it, but if it is: Tommy Lee Jones. Tommy Lee Jones is a delight in this, he’s wonderful, he can get it, it being my hand in action movie marriage. His performance is completely unusual in a way that never feels anything but present and real. With the way he reads his lines he’s almost doing a really great stage performance, which may be why Tom Stoppard wishes he’d written some of them. Anyway I’m very into it.
I am also so into, I find, the dogged, lawful investigator characters. Your Odo’s, your Major Calloway’s. Centered in their competence. Relentlessly reliable. It’s so great watching them claim they don’t care, when really they just [clenches fist] care so much.