U.S. Marshals Stuart Baird

U.S. Marshals Stuart Baird
One gets a feeling of Déjà vu while watching U.S. Marshals, a spin-off of The Fugitive, the better-known Harrison Ford vehicle. Both films feature the character Samuel Gerard, a U.S. Deputy Marshal portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones, but U.S. Marshals takes more than a character from its predecessor; it also lifts the earlier film's entire narrative structure. Both films follow the parallel story of a fugitive on the run from the law and the team of Marshals tracking him down. In this version, the fugitive is a Chicago tow-truck driver played by Wesley Snipes, who is arrested after a tow truck crash in which an illegal handgun is found in his truck. After the driver is booked for illegally carrying said handgun, it appears that he might actually be Mark Sheridan, who's wanted for the murder of two FBI agents in NYC. U.S. Marshals may be stylistically very simple, but it hits the right beats for a formulaic, '90s action flick. These include an impressive plane crash (meant to mirror the bus and train crash from The Fugitive) and a MacGuffin of a conspiracy that has something to do with the FBI and some Top Secret documents. But the whole film feels redundant, following the same outline as its predecessor as events conspire to prove there's more to the fugitive's case than originally thought. U.S. Marshals also abandons the moral ambiguity that provided interest in the original, where Harrison Ford's man-on-the-run pleads his innocence and Gerard responds with, "I don't care." For special features, the Blu-Ray includes "Justice Under the Star," which documents the history of the U.S. Marshals Service and its influence on Hollywood, as well as an interesting featurette on the creation of the massive plane crash at the beginning of the film, which chronicles everything from director Stuart Baird's creative process, storyboards, set building, special effects, the shoot and finally the scene itself. Also included is a bland director's commentary from the very literal-minded Stuart Baird. Combine the lack of interesting style or story in U.S. Marshals with Gerard's team of annoying, wisecracking deputies (Joe Pantoliano is the worst offender) and this recent Blu-Ray belongs only in the Wal-Mart bargain bin. (Warner)