Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: U.S. Marshals

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, April 14, 2001

All right, which one of you is the ugliest, most inbred country son of a bitch out here? You come with me.

Special features

Cast Information6
Commentary Track5
History Lesson5
Production Notes4
Related Movies2
Related Trailers3
Special Effects Notes8
Trailers5

The unknown sequel to the 1993 movie “The Fugitive” stars Tommy Lee Jones as Marshal Sam Gerard. Can it really be a sequel if it doesn’t include the original lead? At least it sucks, which is the true sign of a sequel.

RecommendationPossible Rental
DirectorStuart Baird
WritersRoy Huggins, John Pogue
Movie Rating3
Transfer Quality6
Overall Rating5
Formats
  • Enhanced Widescreen
U.S. Marshals (menu)

One of about five disks I picked up for $10 apiece at Wal-Mart in Michigan, this one was the biggest gamble. I bought it solely on the chops of the actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Downey Jr. I had never even heard of a “sequel” to “The Fugitive”, and the whole idea sounded pretty damned stupid. But it had good actors, a director’s commentary, and an enhanced widescreen transfer, and what the hell, I was already spending $40 on four other disks. I threw “U. S. Marshals” into the pack.

For the most part, this movie lives up to the reputation of sequels. It is predictable, except that you quickly don’t care enough to try. In the end the great Sam Gerard tells his men to stay away, because this is a one-on-one fight. This is so unlike the character in the rest of the movie that you know the only reason he does this is because the writer and director have a gun to his head. Other than that, the movie, though it hasn’t much of a plot, does have some good acting. Both Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Downey, Jr., do very well with their roles; Wesley Snipes is okay, although his character is a bit more of a cardboard cut-out than the rest (I’ll not spoil it for you by telling you which cardboard cut-out).

The movie doesn’t have the same feel as “The Fugitive”, it is much more of a pure action flick. It is hard to even call this a ‘sequel’ to “The Fugitive”. Of the two leads, only Gerard is back, and they never even mention or refer to the previous movie. I don’t even think there’s an “I’ve seen this before” from Sam Gerard in reference to a fugitive who doesn’t kill anybody and goes out of his way not to do so. (The trailer implies one, but this is actually a cut-and-paste of a completely different response.) The studio didn’t even bother to put a “The Fugitive: 2” in the title anywhere.

You have to give the movie credit for recognizing the quality of the Glock .40 handgun. Towards the beginning of the movie, Tommy Lee Jones tells Robert Downey Jr.’s state department agent to get rid of his “nickel-plated sissy pistol” because, apparently, real men use ugly guns. Don’t tell this to Dianne Feinstein! (In regards to other stereotypes, I was reasonably impressed with the intelligence of the trucker and his wife, although the characters’ appearances were taken from stock material.)

U.S. Marshals (legs)

The official advice in a situation like this is to put your head between your legs…

The “feature-length” commentary starts at the beginning, and ends at the end, but it skips a lot of the middle. To be fair, when director Stuart Baird does talk, he’s pretty interesting, but there is a lot of white space where interesting things are going on and he isn’t talking about them. This is not totally uncommon in the commentary world; at least this time, they told us which chaper to skip to in order to grab the next bit of commentary. I have just a tiny bit more respect for the movie after listening to the commentary, but not enough to save it. And to be honest, I shouldn’t have had to have some of those things explained to me. They should have been recognizable from the movie.

Except for the commentary, the other extras are on the other side of the disk. (There is no pan and scan. I like this disk a lot more than I like the movie!) There is a “history” of the US. Marshals service, some cast information, a list of related movies by actor and genre, the trailer, and some production notes. The cast information is well done as far as cast information sections on DVDs go, with a decent amount of information about all the main characters, the writer, director, and producers. The production notes go into a tiny amount of detail about the plane crash and even less about the filming, but they are okay in comparison to other production notes. The list of related movies contains no trailers, just tiny images of the DVD covers, which is a bit odd considering that they went to the trouble of putting these extras on the other side of the DVD. There must have been a lot of extra space on that side. The largest item is the history of the U.S. Marshals service, “History of the U.S. Marshals”, at 18 minutes. And some of that is the trailer for two of the recommended movies: “Cahill: United States Marshal” and “Wyatt Earp”. And the trailer for “The Fugitive” is included on that side of the disk, it just isn’t linked to its image.

The Marshals don’t come off too well in that “history lesson”. Except for a brief stint at assisting the civil rights movement in the sixties, they subverted the law against importing slaves by seizing slave ships and then selling the “seized property” themselves for profit, and, up north, returning fugitive slaves to the South and a return to slavery. Wyatt Earp gets a deservedly poor image for, first, the shoot-out at the OK corrall, after which the townsfolk pretty much drove the Earps away, and then later for using the Marshal Service as a tool of revenge. Later, in the twenties, Marshals assisted revenue agents in trying to eradicate beer, wine, and liquor from the United States. And then, full circle again today, they are assisting in the seizure and forfeiture of private property without criminal trial (although the documentary glossed over the latter two). That was about ten minutes; the rest of the history lesson included the trailers for “Cahill” and “Wyatt Earp”.

U.S. Marshals (sissy)

“Get yourself a Glock, lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol.”

There is also a description of the special effects for the plane crash: “Anatomy of the Plane Crash”. This is possibly the best feature on the DVD; it goes into detail about the plane crash, from storyboard to finish, and includes a comparison to the train crash in “The Fugitive”. Unfortunately, the anatomy is a bit annoying to go through. It is probably about fifteen minutes long total, but it is made up of a bunch of 1 minute to 2 minute sections, and you can’t watch the whole thing all at once.

The “trailers” section contains some television spots for the movie as well as the trailer for “The Fugitive” and “U.S. Marshals”. The U.S. Marshals theatrical trailer was not a very good one: it told you the whole damn movie and just about all of the surprises. (Watch it after seeing the movie and you’ll see what I mean.)

I can’t recommend buying this disk. If you are a fan of the actors or of cool plane crashes, you might want to give it a rent. “It sucks” is probably too strong of a term. Just annoyingly pointless would probably be better. The DVD is quite a bit better than the movie. It’s very disappointing, because the acting is superb. If you look at any single scene, it’s a lot of fun, but when you tie them together, it gets annoying, pointless, and stupid pretty quickly.

Recommendation: Possible Rental

DirectorStuart Baird
WritersRoy Huggins, John Pogue
ActorsTommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey Jr.
Spoken languagesEnglish, French
SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish
Special FeaturesCast Information, Commentary Track, History Lesson, Production Notes, Related Movies, Related Trailers, Special Effects Notes, Trailers
More links

If you enjoyed U.S. Marshals…

If you enjoy Tommy Lee Jones, you might also be interested in Men in Black.

If you enjoy Wesley Snipes, you might also be interested in Blade.