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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Black Fugitive

U.S. Marshals (1998) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Chief Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) and his warrant squad Deputy Marshals: Cosmo Renfro (Joe Pantoliano), Bobby Biggs (Daniel Roebuck), Noah Newman (Tom Wood), and Savannah Cooper (LaTanya Richard­son) have staked out a house in suburban Chicago. They're after two fugitive brothers: Michael and Greg Conroy who escaped from a Tennessee state prison and are hiding out with their girl­friends. Expecting them to be wary and suspicious, Gerard has adopted a misleading disguise as a giant chicken mascot Chiko Roma passing out free samples in the street in front of their house.

briefcaseGreat minds think alike. Ex-Marine, once black ops, recent kite for the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)—a kite is a deniable asset hired to do dirty work—Mark J. Sheridan (Wesley Snipes) was burned in a (“routine drop off”) brief­case exchange in New York and has gone into hiding pursued by some very powerful hombres. Since his picture is being circulated to law enforcement agencies nation­wide—along with various versions in disguises—he a (very) black man of 50 has acquired handy for camouflage a fiancée, a (cool) white chick of 31, Marie Bineaux (Irène Jacob.) People won't remember his face, just a mixed couple.

The Conroy brothers get totally busted in the raid, and Mark Sheirdan aka Mark Roberts gets picked up in a separate incident after accidental discovery. The Conroy brothers are being trans­ported back to Tennessee by plane and Sheridan is being extradited to New York on the same 727 prisoner trans­port. Marshal Gerard for PR sake and as punishment for using excessive force in the bust, is made to personally accom­pany the Conroy brothers on their journey. Well, in imitation of the train wreck in “The Fugitive” (1993), the plane crash lands on a lonely Ohio road, Sheridan escapes, and guess what, Marshal Gerard being johnny-on-the-spot is put in charge of the fugitive hunt. He's given the unwelcome assistance of DSS Special Agent John Royce (Robert Downey Jr.) Sheirdan having nobody else to turn to enlists the aid of his guileless fiancée. Since this is billed neither as a buddy movie nor a romance, it will be interesting to see how these liaisons pan out.


royal flushDo you recall one of Kenny Rogers's songs concerning a chance meeting with “The Gambler” on a train, who offered the passenger this advice: “Every hand's a winner/ And Every hand's a loser”? The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This gambling man's wisdom is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A grey­hound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie we have Marshal Gerard who uses appropriate force arresting the Conroy brothers amidst their protests.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. When Sheridan takes truck driver Earl's wife hostage at gun­point and tells Earl to “Drive,” drive he does, no argument.

We have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” In the movie when Sheridan is cornered by the marshal on top of the Lorali Building with nowhere to go except over the side, he knows that, “I cannot be caught,” so he emulates Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who jumped off a cliff into a raging river below knowing they wouldn't be followed.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” At one point Sheridan perceives that the odds are against him proving his innocence (“getting righteous”) so his best option (“The hell with this; just forget it”) is to run. And run he does, with the preacher at Queens Hill Cemetery intoning, (Psalm 18:2) “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

The gambler gave the advice:
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
It's best not to let down his guard until the whole matter has been resolved.

Production Values

” (1998) was directed by Stuart Baird. It was written by John Pogue using characters created by Roy Huggins. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, and Robert Downey Jr. The actors did an astounding job with what they were given. MPAA rated it PG–13 for some scenes of violence and brief language.

A great deal of effort was expended to make a mixed-race couple palatable to an American movie audience. The White woman was given a fuzzy foreign back­ground—pseudo-French accent, not used to the American medical system, drinks tea in the a.m. instead of coffee—to make her seem susceptible to advances by a (black) man-of-the-world. Her home wall was papered with photos showing her enjoying the company of men in general, and her own paintings were of Negro men or of men with swarthy complexions, pegging her familiarity with another race from her country of origin.

Movie stars are beautiful people to be easy on the eyes two hours at a time. In case some­one had a problem with a mixed-race couple, other memes ran inter­ference in the way a miasma of odors can mask an objection­able one. The redneck swamp guides were “ugly inbreds,” the federal deputies ran on a lack of sleep looking like sh!t, the hunt traversed a smelly gym, and the blood­hound retrieved a yucky (“Prison issue”) shoe. The closeups of the couple were few and far between. This approach was perhaps best described by Shakes­peare: “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The individual elements making up the picture were great, but some­one seems to have taken a risk with a big social experiment capitalizing on the popularity of an earlier “The Fugitive.” It's like my friend who made mush for break­fast then went next door to the store to buy milk. They were out of white milk so he bought chocolate and poured it on his cereal declaiming, “I like mush, and I like chocolate milk, but I don't like chocolate milk on mush.” This movie had great potential, but it didn't suit my taste.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Video Occasion: A last resort when you don't care. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. WEB.