Friday, April 15, 2011
The Fugitive -- determination, truth, and proof of innocence
Director: Andrew Davis, 1993. (PG-13)
TV series have often been transported onto the silver screen, but very few have garnered Best Picture Oscar nominations. The Fugitive, based on the long-running TV series of the 1960s starring David Jensen, is one of these. Though it did not win this prize, it did earn Tommy Lee Jones his only Oscar for this role as a US Marshall.
The film opens with black and white flashback footage of a murder, shown as negative imagery. Interspersed is the color flashback to the preceding events where Chicago doctor, Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), accompanies his wife Helen (Sela Ward) to a pharmaceutical charity event, filled with doctors from the hospital where he works. But the prologue makes it clear: Helen has been murdered and Richard is found guilty of her killing.
Transformed from surgeon to condemned murderer, it is while on the bus taking him and four other convicts to prison that he gets his break. The bus crashes, rolls down onto railroad tracks and then is hit violently by an oncoming train. Kimble barely manages to escape, racing away on foot with an abdominal wound. He has become the fugitive. But knowing his innocence, he is determined to investigate the murder on his own, even while evading the authorities, to find redemption.
Indeed, The Fugitive is one of the best thrillers of the last 20 years. Without being overly violent or filled with foul language, director Davis relies on excellent pacing, revealing information in bite-sized lumps to keep the viewer engaged, and terrific set pieces to carry the plot. And by keeping Kimble returning to the obvious places where the police are looking for him, Davis ratchets the suspense higher and higher.
Even while Kimble was trying to solve the mystery of the one-armed man, he still took time to save a life. Pursuing the investigation in a Chicago hospital, he sees a young boy on a gurney, and he reverts back to his doctor mentality; he takes action that will save a life while putting him in more danger.
Even while we are following our purpose, striving to accomplish our mission, we are still called to be mindful of those whose lives we intersect with. Such God-planned points of contact are often opportunities for our mission, means to move us to our ends. We cannot wear blinders, as horses do to keep them focused; we must utilize peripheral vision. We must be ready to minister as the spirit moves us (Acts 8:39), even if it slows us momentarily from our mission.
Finally Kimble placed himself on the path of pursuing truth as if his life depended on it. In fact it did. Our lives might not literally depend on the truth as his did, but the truth will set us free (Jn. 8:32) from the spiritual bondage that will lead us to spiritual death (Rom. 6:22-23). If we find the truth, as Kimble did, then we we face a crossroads: will we accept it and follow it, or will we ignore it and follow the lie. Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14:6). To follow the truth is to follow him. To do anything else, is to walk away from him, and deceive ourselves. Have you pursued and found the truth yet?
Copyright ©2011, Martin Baggs
at 7:00 AM