With all due respect to Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, and John Ebook, Dr. Richard Kimble is Harrison Ford’s finest efficiency. That’s not precisely a sizzling take. The 1993 thriller, The Fugitive, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary this week, is adored by many, and Ford’s efficiency is commonly singled out by critics, similar to Roger Ebert, who famous in his evaluation:
“Ford is as soon as once more the good fashionable film everyman: dogged, decided, courageous, and never demonstrative. As an actor, nothing he does appears merely for present, and within the face of this melodramatic materials, he intentionally performs down, lays low, will get on with enterprise as a substitute of making an attempt to take advantage of the drama in meaningless appearing thrives.”
The Fugitive was launched on August 6, 1993, to important acclaim, with an infinite $353 million worldwide field workplace run, seven Academy Award nominations (together with Finest Image), and one win for Tommy Lee Jones as Finest Supporting Actor. Not too shabby.
This was proper close to the top of Ford’s exceptional run that began with Star Wars in 1977 and kind of ended with Clear and Current Hazard in 1994. After that, he appeared in a number of high-profile tasks, together with Sabrina, Air Power One, What Lies Beneath, extra Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, and Blade Runner 2049, however none had the magic of his earlier efforts.
Whereas primarily based on a widely known TV sequence of the identical title, it’s truthful to imagine most viewers members gambled on the movie primarily based on Ford’s title alone. On the time, Tommy Lee Jones was a widely known commodity who rose to fame in movies similar to Coal Miner’s Daughter, JFK, and Below Siege, however he wasn’t precisely a field workplace draw. The Fugitive turned him right into a sensation.
Remember, at this level, there weren’t a number of profitable TV-to-film variations outdoors of, say, The Addams Household. The Fugitive kicked off that craze and might need immediately contributed to the creation of Mission: Not possible, Maverick, and, properly, all the remainder. Possibly.
Ford was the principle draw right here, and the enduring actor delivered the products, delivering a nuanced efficiency that depends extra on quiet glances and physicality than over-the-top theatrics. He’s the straight man to Jones’ scene-chewing Samuel Gerard, extra empathetic than magnetic, and extra of an everyday man caught up in excessive circumstances than a red-blooded superhero.
Kimble spends a lot of the movie alone and doesn’t say a lot, forcing Ford to convey his ideas and emotions by way of slight gestures and refined expressions. Throughout the famed dam sequence, he shouts only one line: “I didn’t kill my spouse.” Gerard retorts, “I don’t care,” drawing a wholesome quantity of snickers from the viewers. Even Kimble appears amused as Ford shows a slight grin earlier than vanishing.
Later, Kimble is woke up by the sound of screeching tires. He appears out the window, sees a batch of patrol vehicles, and, fearing the worst, contemplates his choices. Once more, the character doesn’t utter a single line of dialogue, however Ford’s efficiency tells us every thing we have to know and helps us really feel Kimble’s panic, desperation, and eventual aid when it seems the cops are there to select up one other man.
Try the scene within the clip under. Oh hell, watch the entire thing and marvel at how a lot refined appearing Ford does in 4 minutes, all of the whereas cleansing blinds and typing on a pc:
In fact, Ford will get a couple of key scenes, notably one set in a hospital the place Kimble, disguised as a janitor, saves a younger boy’s life. Kimble was a health care provider earlier than he went to jail for the homicide of his spouse, and properly, some habits die onerous.
As a aspect be aware, this scene, together with the earlier second that includes Kimble masquerading as a window blinds cleaner, hearkens again to the unique sequence throughout which our falsely accused hero would tackle odd jobs every week whereas looking for his spouse’s true killer.
Director Andrew Davis additionally provides Ford the highlight when Kimble calls out his finest buddy in entrance of a crowd after which proceeds to beat the holy shit out of him. Once more, Ford’s physicality is on full show. He’s not fairly Indiana Jones, however he’s no pushover, both. The actor finds the proper line between an enraged husband and succesful fighter, in order that we by no means query Kimble’s talents.
Han Solo and Indiana Jones might mark Ford’s extra high-profile roles, however Richard Kimble deserves extra reward than it receives. That is about nearly as good of a quietly highly effective efficiency as you’ll seemingly see, which is loopy to say a couple of blockbuster motion thriller.
Naturally, the Academy turned up their noses and didn’t even nominate the man. To be truthful, the 1994 Oscars had been jam-packed with unbelievable main performances: Liam Neeson (Schindler’s Checklist), Anthony Hopkins (Stays of the Day), Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Acquired to Do with It), Daniel Day-Lewis (Within the Identify of the Father), and winner Tom Hanks (Philadelphia). Nonetheless, I’d swap out any of these names, even Hanks, for Ford.
Then once more, I’m biased. I believed The Fugitive was 1993’s finest movie. Sure, even over Schindler’s Checklist. Nevertheless, because it wasn’t a “prestigious” image, the Oscars awarded it a Finest Image nomination (wanting over Andrew Davis’ very good route within the course of), a handful of technical awards, and known as it a day. Why ought to an expertly crafted motion thriller not obtain the identical consideration as a critical drama —
In fact, that’s a wholly totally different dialog.
I’ve watched The Fugitive properly over 100 occasions since its launch in 1993. It stays a weekend favourite within the Ames family. Most will affiliate Harrison Ford with Star Wars or Indiana Jones. For me, he’ll at all times be Dr. Richard Kimble.