The Fugitive - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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The Fugitive


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Movie: :5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:




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Movie

Remakes of classic TV shows rarely go well. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Charlie’s Angels comes to mind, but then there is the occasional film that strikes gold, ala Mission Impossible. But before Mission Impossible made Tom Cruise an absolute super star, Harrison Ford pulled off the unthinkable with his version of the 1960s TV show The Fugitive. The 90s was a great time for Ford, with some amazing hits, but very few have managed to become so indelible in pop culture minds than his rendition of Dr. Kimble and the one armed man. The movie has been talked about in film classes for the last 30 years, and even pop culture shows like Scrubs has referenced it. While it IS most difficult to pull off a successful remake, Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford did it so well that their chemistry spawned the idea for a sequel (though with Wesley Snipes in place of Harrison Ford. I actually like U.S. Marshals a lot more than critics gave it credit)

Esteemed vascular Surgeon Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) has it all. A beautiful wife (Sela Ward), a prestigious career, and the esteem of his peers. However, that changes one night when he goes home from a fund raiser and walks in to find his wife freshly murdered, and the man who did it getting away. Unfortunately for him all of the evidence seems to point to him doing the murder, and no matter how much he protests, Dr. Kimble is sentenced and sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit. A freak transportation accident gives him the chance to escape his shackles and go on the run in hopes of finding his wife’s murderer, but not without incident.

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Hot on his tail is a crack team of U.S. Marshalls led by Deputy Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), a bull dog of an investigator who is there to do one thing and one thing only. Bring in Dr. Richard Kimble to face justice, no matter the consequences. What unfolds for the next hour and forty five minutes is one of the most thrilling cat and mouse games in cinematic history, with Kimble one step ahead of the intrepid Marshall, all the while piecing together the clues of what happened that fateful night, and coming closer and closer to finding the man who did this too him.

I’m not 100% sure what made The Fugitive such a big hit, but it was a MASSIVE hit. Critics raved over it, audiences flocked to the theaters to see it, and even some 30 years later and dozens of viewings over the last 25 years, I still can’t wait to sit down and watch it. It has such perfect timing, allowing Kimble to stay just ahead of Gerard, yet not make it seem like he’s invincible. Kimble barely escapes by the skin of his teeth more than a few times, and Gerard’s fangs are snapping voraciously at his heels. It doesn’t hurt either that Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford have this sort of ying-yang chemistry going on either. Tommy Lee is going full blown over the top southern excited trying to catch Kimble, while Ford has this desperate determination that is almost icy cold in his ferocity. Both men are at the top of their respective games, and the tug and go relationship between the men is simply superb.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video:
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The Fugitive was notoriously one of Warner’s worst transfers back in the format war days. My HD-DVD copy was worse than the DVD almost, and to add insult to injury, the layers delaminated TWICE. Luckily 10 years ago Warner struck a new encode with a much higher bitrate on a BD-50, as well as using the more advanced AVC codec. The difference between the two discs was pretty startling. Being that they didn’t strike a new master it wasn’t AMAZING, but it certainly went from a 2/5 rating for the video score up to a 4/5 rating. Now, it was announced recently that director Andrew Davis helped supervise a brand new 4K master and restoration taken from the original negative, and I was stoked. A 4K UHD disc that would finally show the 30 year old classic’s true potential. However, there was this little bug in my ear. While most restorations and remasters are perfectly fine, those overseen by the directors themselves tend to lean towards revisionism. Directors tend to like to tweak and manipulate their art after the fact because the works is never done, but luckily for us this new master is spot on PERFECT.

The urban realism of the snowy film looks amazing in 2160p. The film will never be able to escape the grainy nature of the early 90s film stock, but the grain is very clean and organic looking. The photochemical process looks stunning with way more detail than I ever thought was possible from the film. The scene in the sewers before Dr. Kimble takes a nose dive off the edge of the dam has always been a bit crushed, and colors were always a bit TOO warm in the skin tones in my opinion. This new transfer shows shadow details like never before, and the skin tones are tamed just a tad and look a lot more normal. The HDR (no Dolby Vision) application is subtle, yet effective, giving little bits of pop to primary colors (such as the red on a scarf, or the green on the lawn) while not changing that snowy urban look that is so distinctive for The Fugitive. There’s a few soft angle shots near the front end of the movie, but over all this is an INCREDIBLE looking remaster that tears apart even the 20th anniversary remastered Blu-ray from a decade ago.








Audio: :4.5stars:
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Warner usually recycles the same audio track that was on the Blu-ray for their catalog 4K UHD upgrades (and they have, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is found on the disc), they went all out remastering the audio for a full Atmos upgrade! Usually I’m nervous about retinkering with older tracks, but the new Atmos mix sounds incredibly faithful to the original 5.1 mix, just adding a few extras layers to the experience. It’s not going to be a night and day difference between said 5.1 mix, and in fact there’s only slight differences. A helicopter roars over head near the final confrontation with the villain, the thudding of a metal pipe rings from above when Kimble is making his escape in the sewers, and the surround activity feels just a bit more enveloping with the score. Dialog is still crystal clear up in the front of the room, and the hustle and bustle of a gigantic city creates that claustrophobic feeling that we know so well. At the end of the day the Atmos is a judicious tweaking of the original 5.1 track, and does the film justice by balancing authenticity with natural enhancement with technology.












Extras: :3stars:
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• Introduction by Director Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford
• Audio Commentary by Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones
• Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck and On the Run with The Fugitive
• Theatrical Trailer













Final Score: :4.5stars:


The Fugitive is pretty much the definition of a perfect chase thriller. It has an engaging story line, and amazing cast of characters playing off of each other, and was one of THE best movies of the 1990s. Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones were basically everywhere at that point, and The Fugitive is just such an enjoyably watchable film even 30 years later. It balances cinemaphile love with mass market appeal and somehow managed to spawn a sequel with Wesley Snipes that is not shabby at all either (though not nearly as legendary as The Fugitive). The brand new remaster for the film looks absolutely amazing, and with the solid extras and great Atmos track, this is an absolute no brainer to pick up for the holidays.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Andreas Katsulas, Julianne Moore, Joe Pantoliano, Tom Wood
Directed by: Andrew Davis
Written by: Jeb Stuart, David Twohy, Roy Huggins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Italian, Spanish DD 5.1, French, Spanish DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 130 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 21st, 2023
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Recommendation: Must Buy

 
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Todd Anderson

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Love this film... so excited to see this new release. Thx for the review, Mike!
 

MusicManLen

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This 4K release is a keeper and a must add to your collection. The audio & video are the best version of this movie that I have seen and the steelbook has great artwork.

Fugitive Cover.JPG Fugitive Inside.JPG
 
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