Continuing with this series of 47 moments in film that I love (Why 47?), today we hit #12 with a movie that I think was one of the best of a great year, 1993…
The Fugitive (1993)
Directed by: Andrew Davis
On his way to be executed for the murder of his wife, Dr. Richard Kimble manages a miraculous escape. Now he must stay ahead of the relentless US Marshals that pursue him even as he seeks to prove his innocence.
After being arrested, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife–a crime that he is innocent of–Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is involved in a horrific train accident that gives him the opportunity to escape. Desperately, he attempts to elude capture while he treats his wounds and alters his appearance. But the dogged Lt. Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) of the US Marshals tracks him into a series of storm drains…
Gerard slips and falls, momentarily stunning himself and dropping his gun. Richard recovers the gun and points it at Gerard’s back. Gerard turns slowly, sees Richard and puts up his hands.
Richard speaks: “I didn’t kill my wife!”
Gerard replies: “I don’t care.”
Richard really isn’t a killer and he backs away. Gerard really doesn’t care and pulls his second gun from his ankle holster and follows.
This exchange, coming as it does right toward the end of the first act of the movie, is the first face-to-face exchange between these two men, who are really co-protagonists of the film. Indeed, they only come into direct contact a couple of other times, but it’s this encounter which allows the filmmakers to reveal the essence of both characters.
Kimble: “I didn’t kill my wife” – this guy’s story is about proving the truth
Gerard: “I don’t care” – his story is about hunting and capturing Kimble.
There’s the movie in a nutshell, distilled down to eight words of dialogue. Eight words. Now that’s good writing.
Gerard is able to corner Kimble at the edge of a massive waterfall coming from the storm pipes. But Richard, rather than be arrested, takes the plunge…a “peter pan” off the edge, as Gerard puts it. He shows us what he’s willing to do to fulfill his goal. And Gerard does the same–where most would presume that Kimble was killed, Gerard refuses make any such assumptions, and he continues the chase.