The Fugitive (film)

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"Alright ladies and gentlemen, listen up. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles an hour and that gives us a radius of six miles. What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him."
Marshal Sam Gerard

The Fugitive is a 1993 action film based on a 1960s TV show.

Dr. Richard Kimble is a highly-respected Chicago cardiovascular surgeon. That fact alone, however, cannot save him when he is wrongly accused and convicted of his wife's murder. Fortunately for him, the bus transporting him to prison crashes after some of the prisoners attempt to revolt, and he escapes by the skin of his teeth. He returns to his hometown, determined to find the one-armed man who actually committed the crime. However, he is hampered in his attempts by Deputy US Marshal Samuel Gerard, who is intent on seeing him sent to his cell.

In the course of doing so, however, both Kimble and Gerard discover that the problem is bigger than the both of them, and several parties actually want to see Kimble dead.

The film had a sequel in U.S. Marshals, which featured Gerard and his team pursuing another fugitive.


Tropes used in The Fugitive (film) include:
  • Abandoned Warehouse: Played with in the laundry room finale.
  • Alliterative Name: Two of Gerard's men, Bobby Biggs and Noah Newman.
  • Always Gets His Man: Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard is a determined and relentless cop and a great Foil for Kimble. There are those who thought him the more interesting character.
  • And This Is For: Dr. Kimble fights with Dr. Nichols and asks, "Why Helen?"
  • Artificial Limbs: Sykes has a prosthetic arm.
  • Beardless Protection Program: Kimble shaves off his beard immediately after escaping to disguise himself.
    • An early draft of the script inverts this trope—Kimble grows a beard to conceal his appearance.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • At one point Gerard says "andiamo, bambini." Which is Italian for "Let's go, kids."
    • Later, Kimble, while walking around the hospital is asked by a nurse if she can help him. He responds "el lugar incorrecto, gracias." This is awkwardly-said (though correct) Spanish for "the wrong place, thanks."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Well, okay, Kimble may have cleared himself of all charges of murdering his wife, and will therefore not get the syringe, but could now face charges of 1. escaping custody, 2. house invasion, 3. property and 4. document theft, 5. identity theft, 6. holding an officer at gunpoint, 7. assaulting and injuring two people, 8. purloining an officer's weapon, 9. carrying firearms in public, and (naturally) 10. evading police. And when all is said and done, his beloved wife is still dead. And can he ever really rebuild his life after everything he's been through?
  • Breakout Character: Gerard was so popular that he got his own sequel.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Happens twice to Kimble. After escaping from the dam, Kimble has a nightmare about the murder of his wife. Sure enough, at the end of the dream, he bolts upright as he wakens. See Red Herring for the second nightmare.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Nichols brains Kimble with a chair once he knows the jig's up.
  • Character Development: In the beginning, Gerard is the only one willing to hunt down Kimble. Towards the end, he becomes the only one willing to protect him.
  • Chekhov's Keys: At the beginning of the movie, watch carefully or you'll miss it: Dr. Nichols returns Kimble's keys to him, thanking him for lending him his car. It's a blink-and-you-miss-it moment that doesn't become significant until the end, when Gerard realizes (and tells Kimble) that Nichols must have used the keys to let Sykes into Kimble's home--"No forced entry, Richard".
  • Clear My Name
  • Convenient Eclipse: The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago happened to be happening at the time that The Fugitive was scheduled to be filmed. Permission was granted for the producers to film the parade.
  • Cool Guns: Gerard and his ever-present Glock. He practically recites a valentine to it in U.S. Marshals.
  • Crusading Widower: Kimble's efforts to find his wife's killer are just as much about avenging her as they are about clearing his name.
  • Dye or Die: This is what Kimble appears to be trying to do when he dyes his hair.
  • Evil All Along: Dr. Nichols.
  • Eye Take: Check out Gerard's exasperation at the bulletproof glass enclosing Kimble.
  • The Film of the Series: It even won an Oscar for Tommy Lee Jones for his performance as Gerard.
  • Freudian Slip: When Dr. Charles Nichols is giving a speech at a conference, he says as he notices Kimble has arrived to confront him:

Dr. Charles Nichols: [Provasic] was developed in cooperation, not competition, with Chicago Memorial Hospital, in what we hope will be the model for a continued dishonest... excuse me, honest open joint venture.

  • Hand Signals: Gerard does it at least four times and Cosmo does it once.
  • Happily Married: Though we only see their relationship in brief flashbacks, it's obvious this applies to Helen and Richard Kimble.
  • He Knows Too Much: Kimble ran afoul of the pharmaceutical company after he noticed liver damage in their control group.
  • Hey, Wait!: Kimble, disguised in hospital clothing, walks past an Illinois State Police trooper sent to the local hospital to be on the lookout for him, holding his wanted poster. Just when he thinks he's safe, the cop calls to him... only to gesture to him that his fly is down.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: When the Illinois State Police trooper thinks Kimble's a doctor and asks him if he's seen someone with Kimble's description, he says "Every time I look in the mirror, pal--except the beard, of course." Sounds risky, but it might have been more suspicious if he didn't acknowledge it. Then there's the Hey, Wait! moment above.
  • Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: Kimble sneaks into a hospital disguised as a janitor, but takes the time to correct the diagnosis for a child admitted from a bus accident, saving his life. Inconvenient, considering that it almost gets him caught—yet is the first thing to tip Gerard off to the possibility of Kimble's innocence.
  • Inspector Javert: Samuel Gerard. It's his job to bring back Kimble; the truth of Kimble's conviction is not his business. The chase through the storm drains is also a pretty blatant reference to Les Misérables, which has a similar scene towards the end of the book.

Kimble: I didn't kill my wife!
Gerard: I don't care!

  • Institutional Apparel: Yellow prison jumpsuit.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: If this is Chicago, it must be St. Patrick's Day. This was actually a late addition to the script resulting from the fact that it was St. Patrick's Day when they were doing the location filming.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gerard.
  • Jump Off a Bridge: Or in this case, doing a Peter Pan off a dam.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Noticeable between Gerard and his deputies vs. the Chicago Police Department.
  • Lost in a Crowd: Kimble flees into the St. Patrick's Day parade.
  • The Lost Lenore: His wife's murder sets the events of the film in motion, and Kimble is clearly haunted by it right until the very end.
  • Mad Doctor: The pharmacists behind a damaging anti-cholesterol pill.
  • Manly Tears: Kimble sheds plenty of these, most notably as he holds his dead wife in his arms, then breaks down while being interrogated by the police as the full impact of what's happened starts to sink in.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: At the beginning of the movie Kimble has a beard. As part of Kimble's attempt to disguise himself, he shaves off the beard and looks more like the Harrison Ford that audiences are accustomed to.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Murder of Kimble's wife -> drug company conspiracy to market a deadly medical drug to an unknowing public.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Kimble's conviction.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: When Kimble steals the ambulance and gets chased to the dam, we see a pretty literal depiction of this trope (most of the film's location shooting was done in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina; the train wreck set is still there on the scenic railroad; a sign for Murphy, North Carolina can be seen during the car chase leading up to the dam).
  • Mr. Fanservice: Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble. Not just in looks, but in personality—Ford himself mentioned in an interview that women were drawn to the film because they were so moved by Kimble's unrelenting grief for his wife.
  • No One Could Survive That: Gerard's colleagues initially insist that the waterfall jump killed Kimble, but Gerard is Genre Savvy enough to assume otherwise.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: When Kimble sees the train that's come off the tracks heading for him. Also an Oh Crap moment.
  • Oscar Bait: Averted. Would you have expected this role to land Tommy Lee Jones the hardware, until you saw it?
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: "Desmundo, Jose Luis???"
  • Person as Verb: When Cosmo asks Gerard about what happened: "He did a Peter Pan right off this dam here. BOOM!"
  • Playing Drunk: While Gerard and Newman are approaching Copeland's hideout, they pretend to be drunken bums to avoid arousing the suspicion of the neighbors. Gerard even says, "Be drunk, Newman." Newman is rather unsuccessful.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The Chicago Police Department comes off looking pretty stupid in this movie.
    • Subverted with Gerard and his team of marshals, who are not the least bit incompetent, even if they are technically wrong in their pursuit of Kimble. In fact, given that they ultimately become his allies in proving his innocence and protecting him from the CPD, this might go as far as averting this trope.
  • Posthumous Character: Helen Kimble.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Frederick Sykes, the one-armed man.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Where the prison bus rolls onto the tracks. During the derailment of the oncoming train it appears the train is doing everything it can to kill Kimble.
  • Red Herring:
    • After his dive off the dam, Kimble is seen walking down a road at night. A woman stops and offers to give him a ride. Kimble climbs in. We then cut to the U.S. Marshal's office in Downtown Chicago and see this conversation happen:

Cosmo Renfro: Yes! All right, Sammy, we've got him - shacked up with some babe over in Whiting.
Deputy Poole: She left work tonight and took him home.
Noah Newman: About two hours ago her boss called.
Bobby Biggs: [finishing a phone call] All right. [hangs up] They just spotted her car outside her house.
Samuel Gerard: Does she know anything about anybody in the area?
Cosmo Renfro: No, none that we could find. No family either.
Samuel Gerard: All right, have somebody sit on the car. Tell the police that nobody moves 'till we get there, we'll go first thing in the morning. [to Cosmo] Your cousin's still got his truck?
Cosmo Renfro: [nods] Mmmm-hmmm.
Samuel Gerard: Call him. Tell him we'll need it.

    • The way the dialogue above is spoken, especially Poole's line "She left work tonight and took him home", we are led to assume that Gerard's team has received a tip about Kimble's whereabouts. The next morning, we follow Gerard's team, all disguised as ordinary civilians, as they raid the hideout ... where we realize that the tip we saw the Marshals receiving was about Copeland, the only other escapee who survived the train derailment (the hideout being his girlfriend's house).
    • Later, Kimble is having another dream about his wife when he wakes up hearing cars coming to a stop outside and doors opening. He looks out and sees the police advancing on the house. He panics as the tactical assault officers circle the house, and announce themselves. Curiously, we never see them come in through the basement. Kimble follows noises he hears overhead. He breathes a sigh of relief when he realizes that the police have actually come to arrest two drug dealers.
  • Refuge in Audacity: See Hidden in Plain Sight above.
    • There's also the moment where Kimble, a convicted and wanted felon (even if he is innocent), manages to temporarily gain a headway by sticking some cops on Gerard, a U.S. Marshal, by warning them about "a man in a blue topcoat waving a gun and screaming".
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: While Gerard and his subordinates are listening to Kimble's phone call to his lawyer, Gerard asks for part of it to be enhanced and repeated so they can hear it clearly. They eventually use it to find a hidden "Next stop, Merchandise Mart" train announcement in the message and determine that Kimble is actually in Chicago.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: During the final minutes of the film, after Kimble has discovered Dr. Nichols' duplicity and sets out to find him, so angry that he doesn't give a second thought to the fact that he's out in public where someone could—and does—easily recognize him. Unlike most examples of this trope, his rage is limited to one person (or rather, two, counting Sykes).
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Gerard hounds his quarry (along with Dr. Nichols) onto the convention center roof—and then back down to the basement.
  • Sarcastic Confession. Both Kimble and Sykes have their moment. See "Hidden in Plain Sight" for Kimble's. Sykes gets one while being interviewed by Gerard who asks him if Kimble would have any reason to be after him. Sykes says, "Hell yeah! I have a prosthetic arm! That means I murdered his wife!"
  • Scary Black Man: Copeland, the only other convict who survives the train wreck with Kimble. That scene where he holds Newman hostage with a gun while screaming is proof of this. Originally, the script actually had Copeland holding a knife to Newman's throat instead of Newman's own weapon, but still ended with Gerard shooting Copeland at point-blank range.
  • Soft Glass: Averted. Kimble kicks out the glass window of a stalled Chicago 'L' train, but he's clearly seen limping afterwards, so it obviously wasn't as easy as most movies usually make it seem.
  • Soft Water: Kimble's leap from the dam, which should have killed him or at least broken every bone in his body.
    • Maybe (very maybe) justified. We see that he definitely fell into one of the spouts of water, and it is possible that the force of this water carried him safely away from the wall of the dam. Also, it is possible that this same spout made his impact softer than it would have otherwise been.
    • Cliff divers have survived similar heights.
  • Spin-Off: U.S. Marshals, which starred Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard pursuing another fugitive.
  • Stairwell Chase: Gerard spots Kimble at Cook County Jail.
  • Stern Chase
  • Team Dad: Gerard.

"Well, sir, Copeland was a bad man. He was gonna kill one of my kids."

  • Try and Follow: Kimble, when "cornered" by Gerard on the dam, suddenly makes a suicidal jump into the turbulent waters.
  • Unfortunate Implications: An in-universe example. Since the real killer was a retired cop, it's going to look to the public like the Chicago Police Department deliberately framed Kimble to protect one of their own. This is implied in a scene at the very end where the cops, having cockily dismissed any hints of Kimble's innocence in an earlier press conference, are clearly fielding some rather awkward questions at that point.
  • US Marshal: Samuel Gerard.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Kimble's leap from the dam. Director Andrew Davis described this as "his baptism. That's the moment he becomes 'The Fugitive'".
  • The Windy City provides most of the action of the second half of the story.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Dr. Kimble commits multiple crimes in the course of proving that he didn't murder his wife, beginning with his original escape from custody, which is illegal whether or not you are innocent of the crime you are accused or convicted of. Notably, however, the film ends with him in the custody of the US Marshals who were pursuing him throughout the movie, and while he's cleared himself of the original murder, there's no indication that all the other stuff is going to be let slide (it can be argued that he's got good grounds for defense; the point is that his righteousness is not taken for granted).
    • It's almost guaranteed he would not be charged with anything. The Chicago District Attorney and the local police would be already hard-pressed to explain why an innocent man was convicted of murder and was essentially forced to find the real killer himself. On top of it, as the real killer is a retired Chicago cop, the CPD would already be looking like they framed Kimble to cover for one of their own. The only way they could make themselves look worse would be to charge Kimble with anything else.
      • And clearly, even if Kimble were convicted of some of these things, it still beats the lethal injection he was otherwise facing.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Gerard vs. Kimble.
  • You! Get Me Coffee!: Gerard to Newman: "Well, think me up a cup of coffee and a chocolate doughnut with some of those sprinkles, will you?"