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Review: 'U.S. Marshals' plot is way too familiar

movie strip March 6, 1998
Web posted at: 1:04 p.m. EST (1804 GMT)
From Reviewer Paul Clinton

(CNN) -- Written in stone, somewhere in Hollywood, are the words, "If it worked once, let's do it again."

As Yogi Berra might say, "It's deja vu all over again" in the new film "U.S. Marshals," the sequel to the highly acclaimed, Academy Award-winning movie "The Fugitive." But "Marshals" doesn't just follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, it tries to clone it.

Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role as Chief Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard, a part that won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1993. With nothing to lose this time around, Jones pins on his badge and goes hunting for another escaped prisoner. This time, the prisoner is played by Wesley Snipes.

Jones trails Snipes after his escape during a huge crash, this time a plane crash instead of a train wreck. (BIG plot difference here.) Obviously it takes an accident involving public transportation to create a fugitive.

Of course, Harrison Ford -- I mean Wesley Snipes -- is innocent and once again the marshal just doesn't care. Does that plot sound familiar?

Thankfully, Snipes' character isn't a doctor searching for a one-armed man. This time, the fugitive is a mysterious ex-CIA operative. Robert Downey Jr. plays a government agent who joins forces with Jones to bring the fugitive down.

See Paul Clinton's review
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This stirring story was created by screenwriter John Pogue. Now, for every film, the studios put out something called a "press kit" with background information on the movie and its stars. The "Marshals" kit has to be my favorite in a long time. Pogue is heralded in it as "one of Hollywood's most successful unproduced screenwriters." Huh?

While the acting by Jones, Snipes and Downey is excellent, their thespian efforts fail to overcome the lack of originality in the story.

"U.S. Marshals" is the same prom, different dress. Been there, done that.

The movie is rated PG-13 for violence (none graphic), and lasts 113 minutes.


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