The Fugitive: Live Watching it 30 Years Later

Guys, it’s been (nearly) 30 years since the greatest St. Patrick’s Day/wife murder movie of all-time, The Fugitive, was released in theatres. Endlessly quotable and completely star-studded with incredible before-they-were-big bit parts, if you haven’t been watching this on the regular, you are missing out on a major part of the human experience.

Picture it: Harrison Ford stars as a (spoilers!) wrongly convicted wife murderer who escapes imprisonment and eludes U.S. Marshall Tommy Lee Jones while attempting to find the real murderer. It has egg sandwiches, prosthetic arms, and a parade. What more could you want?

I know! What would make it even better is if I were to rewatch this classic film and provide blow-by-blow commentary while drinking a bottle of wine!

Get your DVRs ready to watch along as we explore what hasn’t aged well, the little easter eggs that make us giggle, and how long it takes the “brilliant” vascular surgeon to realize he loaned out his keys to his sinister friend right before the break-in/murder!


(NOTE: the timing of the film is based on a cable television download that has ads up front, so my time stamps may not exactly match yours)

The Fugitive Re-Watch

7:00 – It’s become clear that Helen’s last night on earth was at a fundraiser to watch chicks in thong swimsuits. Sad. Good music.

8:00 – I’m trying to feel for Fugitive as he’s questioned by police, but right now he looks like a 3rd grader regretting a fruit punch spill on his t-shirt, as opposed to a man covered in his wife’s blood.

8:00 – Poor Helen. She needn’t have said “I’ll wait up for you…wait up for you…wait up for you…wait up for you.”. Once was enough, lady. He gets it.
(I joke!)

9:00 – The lead detective gives Fugitive some coffee in a mug that reads, “The Big One”. Hee hee. Everyone else has plain mugs.

12:00 – Really? He’s being charged on circumstantial evidence? This is shades. She may have been super wealthy, but he’s a cardio-vascular dude with nothing under his fingernails. Except his wife’s skin, I mean. What? Too soon?

13:00 – If you were alive and aware of pop culture in 1993 as I was, you would know that killing Sela Ward wasn’t just a crime. It was a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. She was the darling. So…you know he’s screwed.

18:00 – We’re on the doomed prison bus. I appreciate that I’m just now noticing the prisoners giving each other a heads up to go along. Even Fugitive does it.

19:00 – The bus is numbered 42. Heh.

20:00 – Damnit, Fugitive when the train or tornado is headed on your path, you can’t outrun it! Turn! Turn! TURNNNNNN!

22:00 – Of course he has to warn Copeland to be good. I hope he also saves the lives of several bystanders during his adventures!

23:00 – It’s Joe Pantoliano! Looking kinda hot in his cords with mysterious old keys hanging form his belt loop. BUT, I know he burned Pie-O-My alive, so I’m having all sorts of confused emotions right now.

24:00 – Anyone else see the police dude who doesn’t know how to wear earmuffs?? He’s wearing the strap along his forehead like an eyepatch.

25:00 – Police and the media. This scene is fairly pedestrian, except for the very interested cameraman just behind Sherriff Rollins whose camera is clearly not on.

28:00 – Dammmn. The US Marshalls have a sweeet set-up. Overnight some carpenters came out and built a wooden plank platform for his mobile field office where they set up a major tent and supplied power, computer systems, copiers, and dial-up (internet) to a remote station. Tax dollars worth it? A discussion for another time.

29:00 – Sneakin’ into the hospital. I’d say he could’ve just walked in without carrying the crate lookin’ as he does. But okay. He’s sneeeeaky.

29:00 – That’s a whole lotta Harrison Ford. Rawwwwr.

31:00 – Now I want an egg sandwich.

33:00 – The US Marshall manhunt is gettin’ reals. This original score is hot and very 90s.

33:00 – It’s probably been about 14 hours since the bus crash and the “jump-to-conclusions mat” corrections officer not only hasn’t been allowed to leave, no one’s even helped him clean the effing blood off his face. Rude.

34:00 – Even when I was 13 and first saw this in theatres, I thought, “Man, an ambulance is a really, really poor choice for someone trying to hideout.” But okay.

35:00 – Who HONKS at an ambulance with its siren on? Monsters.

37:00 – Ye know, Cosmo, you burned Pie-O-My alive, so I don’t wanna hear about effing your shoes.

45:00 – There is an alarming amount of Sam’s staff barking at him.

46:00 – Holy crap, it’s the model of car all the kidnappers used on Unsolved Mysteries in the 80s! Don’t get in, Fugitive–I think that’s Ted Bundy in a wig!

47:00 – The Marhsall’s team is UNDERCOVER! They got themselves a fake truck for no effing reason. And tattered costumes and shopping wheelie carts. Oh the one dude is fake coughing. This is probably the most obvious police thing ever.

47:00 – Also, as someone who grew up close to Detroit, this is a sad visual of Chicago. A couple of formerly pretty nice houses sitting in isolation with ghost lots flanking them. How many families loved those homes? Now my heart, it fills with sadness. Where’s my wine?

51:00 – I’m kinda scared by Tommy Lee Jones’s eye wrinkle canyons.

53:00 – More deputies barking.

54:00 – RoseFromLost identifies Merchandise Mart. Sure, leave it to the lady to figure out a shopping clue.

57:00 – Fugitive is looking to rent a room. I don’t know what language mother and son are speaking, but she definitely asked her son if they should rob this dude later and he definitely said yes.

60:00 – Oof, they really ramped up that score like Fugitive was going to straight-up murder Desmondo. That would’ve been a very dark turn. And I would’ve been here for it.

1:02:00 – Now for a proper 90s music montage where Tommy Lee Jones falls in love with some handcuffs. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

1:02:00 – It’s JANE LYNCH! I mean, I’ve known for many years she was in this, but I never fail to get excited.

1:04:00 – Since we all probably know the ending, I have to ask, why did Sykes fucking attack Helen? She wasn’t the target. He knew it wasn’t Fugitive and that dude wasn’t home. Is Sykes just blood-thirsty and deranged? Good writing, boys.

1:05:00 – Fugitive is looking at the ambulance bay thinking #GetawayCarRegerts. Amiright?

1:08:00 – Hey there, Juliann Moore.

1:12:00 – Life #2 saved since his conviction. Check!

1:12:00 – The ONLY SCENE is this movie that officially makes this film pass the Bechdel Test: Julianne Moore asks the nurse where the boy is, and she says he never came through here. That’s the only time in the entire movie two women talk to each other. Let that blow your mind.

1:14:00 – I WANT that dude’s purple pants.

1:15:00 – Anyone else loving that RoseFromLOST and ArztFromLOST are both working together on this manhunt team?

1:16:00 – Com’on Chicago, bagpipes and kilts aren’t Irish. Let’s get it right, people.

1:21:00 – “…at a woman!” may be one of the best lines in this movie, I swear to god.

1:21:00 – NO! No! TLJ just straight-up tried to murder our unarmed (movie pun!) Fugitive even though TLJ is already starting to think Fugitive might be innocent. Bullets flying everywhere in a crowded indoor space, followed by a would-be kill-shot while the guy is lying prone on the ground.

1:24:00 – News guy: “Deputy! Is it true that you tried to murder an unarmed man today and accidentally shot a baby in the process?”

1:24:00 – It must be time for the third act! Fugitive got himself some new threads, including a necktie and a sportcoat!

1:26:00 – Fugitive is now breaking into a man’s house, and he doesn’t even know if it’s the right prosthetic arm guy (we’ve only accounted for 2 of the others out of 5). So rude. If he’s wrong, who’s gonna replace that window?

1:28:00 – That cracks my shit up. Not only does Sykes pay his taxes like a good assassin, apparently he also files as a member of a partnership. What partnership? I kinda want to know now.

1:38:00 – Another brief flash of #AmbulanceRegerts.

1:41:00 – “So put THAT ON YOUR PLATE!”

1:42:00 – Oops, Fugitive just remembered he lent EverAfterDad (Dr. Nichols) his friggin house keys the night of the murder. Whoopsie.

1:44:00 – It’s time for a Final Shhhhhowdown!

1:46:00 – Oh no! Our favorite Scrubs janitor is in peril! (Or The Middle dad, if you prefer. I admire him in both.)

1:48:00 – Fugitive is MAD! He just SHOVED an innocent man for no reason. And I don’t think he really cared when he checked the cop’s pulse if it was steady or not.

1:50:00 – I can’t help it. I always applaud at Dr. Nichols’s introduction like it’s audience participation.

1:52:00 – “Richard. I’m sorry, I’m in the middle of this speech.” Totally normal reaction to the circumstances. Another favorite line of mine.

1:52:00 – “Okay, it’s all over folks. Let’s just stay calm.” It clearly isn’t over, CHAD. We’re just getting started.

1:54:00 – It’s time for Harrison Ford’s “Frankenstein’s Monster” run.
Helicopter baaaaad!

2:00:00 – BAM! That I-beam is from Pie-O-My with love. Also, that probably should’ve killed you instantly.

2:02:00 – Okay, I’m not sure why Sykes was walked all the way to the Hilton to be put in a squad car.

2:03:00 – Really? That’s all of Fugitive’s injuries? I’ve had more cuts and bruises from sewing projects.

2:04:00 – And it’s over. With a really weird flourish where only after the unmarked car drives away with Fugitive do people start flooding the road.

I have to say, that was just damn enjoyable. And it really holds up well, mostly. Obviously there is a serious lack of women, but I have no problem believing there was a major underrepresentation of women in law enforcement in the early 90s. The basic themes of the American justice system being a blend of incompetence and reactionary violence still feels current, as does casting a big-bad pharmaceutical company as the overarching villain. And I still want an egg sandwich.

Conclusion: This film holds up really well and is just plain nice. Except for Helen. It wasn’t nice for her at all.


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