The Fugitive (1993 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Davis|
|Produced by||Arnold Kopelson|
|Story by||David Twohy|
|Based on||The Fugitive|
by Roy Huggins
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$368.9 million|
The Fugitive is a 1993 American action thriller film based on the 1960s television series of the same name created by Roy Huggins. The film was directed by Andrew Davis and stars Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, with supporting roles by Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, and Jeroen Krabbé. The screenplay was written by David Twohy and Jeb Stuart, from a story by Twohy. After being framed for the murder of his wife and unjustly sentenced to death, Dr. Richard Kimble escapes from custody (following a bus crash) and sets out to find his wife's actual killer, capture him, and clear his name while being hunted by the police and a team of US Marshals.
The Fugitive premiered in the United States on August 6, 1993, and was a critical and commercial success, grossing nearly $370 million against a $44 million budget. It was the third-highest-grossing film of 1993 domestically, with an estimated 44 million tickets sold in the U.S. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture; Jones won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. It has come to be viewed as one of the greatest action films of the 1990s. It was followed by a 1998 spin-off, U.S. Marshals, in which Jones reprised his role as Deputy Marshal Gerard along with some others of his earlier Marshals team.
Dr. Richard Kimble, a prominent Chicago vascular surgeon, arrives home to find his wife Helen fatally wounded by a one-armed man who has a prosthetic arm. Kimble struggles with the killer who escapes. The lack of evidence of a break-in, Helen's lucrative life insurance policy, and a misunderstood 9-1-1 call result in Kimble's wrongful conviction of first-degree murder and a subsequent death sentence.
Being transported to death row by bus, Kimble's fellow prisoners attempt an escape. The pandemonium results in the death of two prisoners and the bus driver, which sends the bus down a ravine and into the path of an oncoming train. Kimble saves a guard, escapes the collision and flees, while the train derails violently as a result of the collision. Hours later, Senior Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard and his colleagues Renfro, Biggs, Newman and Poole arrive at the crash site and begin the search for Kimble.
Kimble sneaks into a hospital to treat his wounds and alter his appearance. He eludes the authorities in a stolen ambulance and disappears into a storm drain. Gerard follows him, but slips, falls, and drops his weapon. Kimble takes the weapon and points it at Gerard, proclaiming his own innocence, but runs away without shooting. Gerard corners him at the edge of the storm drain over a dam. Kimble leaps into the water below and escapes.
Kimble returns to Chicago to hunt for the real murderer, acquiring money from his friend and colleague Dr. Charles Nichols. Posing as a janitor, Kimble infiltrates Cook County Hospital's prosthetic department to obtain a list of men who had prosthetic arms repaired shortly after his wife's murder. While there, Kimble realizes that a young patient has been misdiagnosed; Kimble forges new doctor's orders for the patient, saving his life, but is confronted by a hospital physician who realizes that Kimble is not who he claims to be.
With Kimble's recent whereabouts confirmed, Gerard speculates that Kimble is searching for the one-armed man. While visiting a local courthouse at Chicago City Hall to interview one of the men on his list, Kimble narrowly avoids being apprehended by Gerard and his men and disappears into the midst of a parade. Kimble later breaks into the residence of another of the men on the list, a former police officer named Fredrick Sykes. Kimble sees a picture of Sykes and recognizes him as his wife's murderer. Kimble finds that Sykes is employed as a security guard for a pharmaceutical company, Devlin MacGregor, which is scheduled to release a new drug called Provasic. Kimble investigated the drug in the past and discovered that it had a severe risk for liver damage, which should have prevented it from being approved by the FDA. He eventually deduces that Nichols, who had led the drug's development, arranged for a cover-up and was behind the initial attack, which was intended to kill Kimble, not his wife (who then became the contingency target due to Kimble's absence), and that another of their colleagues, Alec Lentz, had also been killed by Sykes.
Provasic is to be presented at a pharmaceutical conference at the Chicago Hilton & Towers Hotel. As Kimble takes an elevated train there to confront Nichols, Sykes appears and attacks him. In the struggle, Sykes fatally shoots a transit cop before being subdued and handcuffed to a pole by Kimble. At the conference, Kimble interrupts Nichols' speech, confronting him about falsifying medical research and orchestrating the murders of Helen and Lentz. This leads to a fight on the hotel roof before they both fall through a skylight and into an elevator shaft. Both men are knocked unconscious upon landing inside an elevator car, which then descends and stops at the laundry floor. Nicols regains consciousness and attempts to make his way back to the conference, followed by Kimble shortly afterwards.
Gerard and Renfro arrive on the scene and evacuate the floor. Gerard calls out to Kimble that he knows about Nichols' conspiracy and that Kimble is innocent. Nichols knocks out Renfro, takes his gun, and attempts to shoot Gerard. Kimble attacks Nichols from behind with a pipe, knocking him unconscious and saving Gerard's life. Kimble surrenders to Gerard, who escorts him out of the hotel. Sykes and Nichols are arrested. Renfro is hospitalized while Kimble, Gerard, Newman and Poole leave the scene, with Kimble's exoneration all but guaranteed.
- Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble
- Tommy Lee Jones as Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard
- Sela Ward as Helen Kimble
- Joe Pantoliano as Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
- Andreas Katsulas as Fredrick Sykes
- Jeroen Krabbé as Dr. Charles Nichols
- Daniel Roebuck as Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Biggs
- Tom Wood as Deputy U.S. Marshal Noah Newman
- L. Scott Caldwell as Deputy U.S. Marshal Erin Poole
- Johnny Lee Davenport as Deputy U.S. Marshal Henry
- Julianne Moore as Dr. Anne Eastman
- Ron Dean as Detective Kelly
- Joseph Kosala as Detective Rosetti
- Jane Lynch as Dr. Kathy Wahlund
- Dick Cusack as Attorney Walter Gutherie
- Andy Romano as Judge Bennett
- Nick Searcy as Sheriff Rawlins
- Eddie Bo Smith as Copeland
- Neil Flynn as Transit Cop
- Richard Riehle as Old Guard
- Kirsten Nelson as Hospital Secretary
- David Darlow as Dr. Alec Lentz
- Frank Ray Perilli as Corrections Officer
- Lester Holt as Newscaster
Harrison Ford was not originally cast for the role of Dr. Richard Kimble. Instead, a number of actors were auditioned for the part, including Alec Baldwin, Nick Nolte, Kevin Costner, and Michael Douglas. Nolte in particular felt he was too old for the role (though he is only a year older than Ford). Although the role of Gerard went to Tommy Lee Jones, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight were both considered for the role. The character of Dr. Nichols was recast for Jeroen Krabbé after the original actor who landed the role, Richard Jordan, fell ill with a brain tumor. Jordan subsequently died three weeks after the film's release.
Filming took 52 days. Locations for the motion picture included Bryson City, North Carolina; Blount County, Tennessee; Chicago; and Dillsboro, North Carolina. Although almost half of the film is set in rural Illinois, a large portion of the principal filming was actually shot in Jackson County, North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains. The scene involving Kimble's prison transport bus and a freight train wreck was filmed along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad just outside Dillsboro, North Carolina. Riders on that excursion railroad can still see the wreckage on the way out of the Dillsboro depot. The train crash cost $1 million to film. A real train, with its engine removed, was used for the filming, which was done in a single take. The wreck took several weeks to plan, and several test runs with a boxcar and a log car were conducted before the night of filming came. Scenes in the hospital after Kimble initially escapes were filmed at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, North Carolina. Cheoah Dam in Deals Gap was the location of the scene in which Kimble jumps from the dam. Deals Gap is also a popular and internationally famous destination for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts, as it is located along a stretch of two-lane road known since 1981 as "The Dragon" or the "Tail of the Dragon".
The rest of the film was shot in Chicago, Illinois, including some of the dam scenes, which were filmed in the remains of the Chicago freight tunnels. The city hall stair chase (where Kimble narrowly escapes being apprehended by Gerard) was indeed filmed in the corridors and lobby of Chicago City Hall. The character Sykes lived in the historic Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. Harrison Ford uses the pay phone in the Pullman Pub, and then climbs a ladder and runs down the roofline of the historic rowhouses. During the St. Patrick's Day Parade chase scene, Mayor Richard M. Daley and Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris are briefly shown as participants.
Cinematographer Michael Chapman credits Andrew Davis for the film's distinctive use of Chicago, which drew much praise upon its release. "A lot of it really feels like Chicago, because it just has a native's eye to it. That's Andy's, not mine. He knew where to look." Chapman was actually hired a week into production after his predecessor was fired, and he claims he only took the job because the money was too good. Throughout the production, Chapman would go back and forth between documentary and theatrical methods, using handheld cameras and natural light for scenes like the first house raid and then adding unexpected light sources throughout the tunnel chase as the realistic absence of light was deemed unfeasible. Though his work was later recognized with an Academy Award nomination, Chapman said it was an unhappy experience as he never got along with Davis. "I said 'I hated being there' and 'I was the wrong guy' and cursed...but it all worked out, so you never know."
Much of the film was rewritten throughout production and typically on the day each scene was supposed to shoot. According to Davis, he never met with credited screenwriter David Twohy, whose main contribution was writing the train crash. Beyond that, Davis said "he wasn’t involved in anything we did. Jeb Stuart was there with us...basically responding to things we were coming up with all the time...[Warner Bros.] can’t talk about this because of the Writers Guild, but Tommy Lee Jones, myself, Harrison [Ford] and other people who were close with us, especially coming up with the whole plot about the pharmaceuticals, they were uncredited writers." Jane Lynch, who was cast as Dr. Kathy Wahlund in one of her first film roles, recalled having that experience, with both Ford and herself working out new dialogue for their scene right before they filmed it as Ford "didn't like the scene as it was written."
Given Ford's limited window of availability, Davis had only ten weeks to edit, mix and finish the film between the last day of shooting and the day it opened in theaters. To meet their schedule, producer Peter MacGregor-Scott set up seven editing suites at Warner Hollywood Studios and had a team of editors cutting around the clock as they each worked on different scenes. Each editor would be recognized for their work on the film with an Academy Award nomination.
Howard had a difficult time scoring the film, recalling that "The Fugitive really kicked my ass. When I was hired for it, I was terrified." He became more despondent after listening to Jerry Goldsmith's work, which he had been using as placeholders for scenes that needed music. Howard wasn't confident that he could match the quality of those temporary cues, but he refused to quit, eventually conceding that his score would be a "quasi-failure." He was particularly dissatisfied with his work on the chase scenes, believing his string arrangements were too awkward. When he was given an Academy Award nomination, Howard said "I was completely shocked. I just didn’t think [my score] was worthy of a nomination, but that’s often what happens. It worked, and the movie was so good. It makes everybody look better."
Elektra Records released an album featuring selections from the score on August 31, 1993. La-La Land Records later released a 2-disc, expanded and remastered edition of the score, featuring over an hour of previously unreleased music, tracks from the original soundtrack, and alternate cues.
|The Fugitive: Limited Edition Expanded Archival Collection|
|Film score by|
|Studio||Sony Scoring Stage|
(Culver City, California)
|Label||La-La Land Records|
|Producer||James Newton Howard (original)|
Dan Goldwasser, M.V. Gerhard
|4.||"The Hand/The Hunt/The Tow truck"||4:04|
|8.||"Kimble in the River"||1:52|
|9.||"The Dream/Kimble Dyes his Hair"||2:45|
|11.||"Kimble Calls his Lawyer/No Press"||1:57|
|12.||"Kimble Returns to Hospital"||3:06|
|13.||"The Montage/Cops Bust the Boys/Computer Search"||6:50|
|14.||"Kimble Saves the Boy"||2:54|
|16.||"The Courthouse/Stairway Chase"||6:13|
|17.||"Cheap Hotel/Sykes' Apartment"||4:37|
|1.||"Kimble Calls Gerard"||2:37|
|2.||"Memorial Hospital/It's Not Over Yet"||3:03|
|3.||"See a Friend/Sykes Marks Kimble"||2:12|
|4.||"This is My Stop/El Train Fight"||4:02|
|6.||"Roof Fight Pt. 1/Roof Fight Pt. 2/Nichols Reappears"||3:52|
|7.||"The Elevator/The Laundry Room"||4:58|
|8.||"It's Over/End Credits"||5:40|
|9.||"The Fugitive Theme"||3:04|
|10.||"Kimble Dyes His Hair"||4:23|
|12.||"No Press (Alternate)"||0:45|
|13.||"No Press (No Sax)"||1:31|
|14.||"Cops Bust The Boys (Alternate)"||1:09|
|15.||"Computer Search (No Sax)"||2:49|
|16.||"Roof Fight Pt. 1 (Less Percussion)"||1:57|
|17.||"Roof Fight Pt. 2 (Less Orch Verb)"||1:17|
|18.||"Helicopter Chase/The Sewer (Synth Demos)"||7:44|
|19.||"Piano End credits"||2:47|
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 96% based on 76 reviews, with an average rating of 7.95/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Exhilarating and intense, this high-impact chase thriller is a model of taut and efficient formula filmmaking, and it features Harrison Ford at his frantic best." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a rare "A+" grade on a scale of A+ to F.
—Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times
Desson Howe, writing in The Washington Post, called the film "A juggernaut of exaggeration, momentum and thrills — without a single lapse of subtlety — "Fugitive" is pure energy, a perfect orchestration of heroism, villainy, suspense and comic relief. Ford makes the perfect rider for a project like this, with his hangdog-handsome everyman presence. He's one of us — but one of us at his personal best. It's great fun to ride along with him." Left impressed, Rita Kempley also writing in The Washington Post, surmised how the filmed contained "Beautifully matched adversaries" figuring, "One represents the law, the other justice — and it's the increasingly intimate relationship between them that provides the tension. Otherwise, 'The Fugitive' would be little more than one long chase scene, albeit a scorchingly paced and innovative one." In a mixed review, Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle wrote that "Director Davis valiantly tries to keep the breakneck, harried pace of an actual flight going throughout, and only occasionally drops the ball (the film's convoluted conspiracy ending is the first example to beat me about the face and neck just now — others will crop up after deadline, I'm sure)." Of the lead actor's performance he said, "Ford may be the closest thing we have these days to a Gary Cooper, but really, where's David Janssen when we really need him?" Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said that the film was about "two chases, two suspense plots running on parallel — and finally convergent — tracks. Kimble and Gerard spend the entire film on opposite sides of the law. Before long, though, we realize we're rooting for both of them; they're both protagonists, united in brains, dedication, superior gamesmanship. The film's breathless momentum springs from their jaunty competitive urgency." In a 2018 review for The Atlantic, Soraya Roberts says the film is "notable for being the best of a genre that no longer really exists: the character-driven Hollywood action movie for adults."
The film was not without its detractors. Geoff Andrew of Time Out viewed the film as "A glossy, formula chase movie with the requisite number of extravagant action sequences". The critic added, "Ford is up to par for the strenuous stuff, but falls short on the grief, anxiety and compassion, allowing Tommy Lee Jones to walk away with the show as the wisecracking marshal on Kimble's trail." Columnist Ethan Ham writing for the Bright Lights Film Journal speculated that supporting actor Tommy Lee Jones' character was "much more disturbing than the inept police." Later explaining, "In Kimble's first encounter with Gerard, Kimble says, 'I didn't kill her!' Gerard responds, 'I don't care.'" In the Chicago Sun-Times, noted film critic Roger Ebert voiced his enthusiasm with the picture observing, "The device of the film is to keep Kimble only a few steps ahead of his pursuers. It is a dangerous strategy, and could lead to laughable close calls and near-misses, but Davis tells the story of the pursuit so clearly on the tactical level that we can always understand why Kimble is only so far ahead, and no further. As always, Davis uses locations not simply as the place where action occurs, but as part of the reason for the action."[dead link] Rating the film with three stars, James Berardinelli of ReelViews professed, "Following the opening scenes, we're treated to over a half-hour of nonstop action as Gerard and his men track down Kimble. Directed and photographed with a flair, this part of the movie keeps viewers on the edges of their seats. Most importantly, when on the run, Kimble acts like an intelligent human being. Equally as refreshing, the lawmen are his match, not a bunch of uniformed dunces being run around in circles."
—Rita Kempley, writing in The Washington Post
For the most part, satisfied with the quality of the motion picture, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader said that "The mystery itself is fairly routine, but Jones's offbeat and streamlined performance as a proudly diffident investigator helps one overlook the mechanical crosscutting and various implausibilities, and director Andrew Davis does a better-than-average job with the action sequences." Leonard Klady writing in Variety exclaimed, "This is one film that doesn't stint on thrills and knows how to use them. It has a sympathetic lead, a stunning antagonist, state-of-the-art special effects, top-of-the-line craftsmanship and a taut screenplay that breathes life into familiar territory." Film critic Chris Hicks of the Deseret News accounted for the fact that the film "has holes in its plotting that are easy to pick apart and characters that are pretty thin, bolstered by the performances of seasoned vets who know how to lend heft to their roles." But in summary he stated, "the film is so stylish, so funny and so heart-stopping in its suspense that the audience simply doesn't care about flaws."
The Fugitive opened strongly at the North American box office, grossing $23,758,855 in its first weekend and holding the top spot for six weeks. It eventually went on to gross an estimated $183,875,760 in the United States and Canada, and $185 million in foreign revenue, for a worldwide total of $368,875,760.
The Fugitive was significant in that it was the first major American film to be screened in the People's Republic of China in nearly a decade, following restrictions on foreign films; First Blood (1982) had previously released there in 1985. The Fugitive grossed CN¥25.8 million in 1994, the highest for a Hollywood film in China, up until it was surpassed by True Lies (1994), which released there in 1995.
The film was nominated and won several awards in 1993–94. Various film critics included the film on their lists of the top 10 best films for that year; including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times who named it the fourth best film of 1993.
|1994 66th Academy Awards||Best Picture||Arnold Kopelson||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Tommy Lee Jones||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Michael Chapman||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||Dennis Virkler, David Finfer, Dean Goodhill, Don Brochu, Richard Nord, Dov Hoenig||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||James Newton Howard||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Donald O. Mitchell, Michael Herbick, Frank A. Montaño, Scott D. Smith||Nominated|
|Best Sound Editing||John Leveque, Bruce Stambler||Nominated|
|1994 Annual ACE Eddie Awards||Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic)||Dennis Virkler, Don Brochu, Dean Goodhill, Richard Nord, David Finfer||Nominated|
|1993 8th Annual ASC Awards||Theatrical Release||Michael Chapman||Nominated|
|1994 ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards||Top Box Office Films||James Newton Howard||Won|
|1994 Japan Academy Prize||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|
|1993 47th British Academy Film Awards||Sound||John Leveque, Bruce Stambler, Becky Sullivan, Scott D. Smith, Donald O. Mitchell, Michael Herbick, Frank A. Montaño||Won|
|Actor in a Supporting Role||Tommy Lee Jones||Nominated|
|Editing||Dennis Virkler, David Finfer, Dean Goodhill, Don Brochu, Richard Nord, Dov Hoenig||Nominated|
|Achievement in Special Effects||William Mesa, Roy Arbogast||Nominated|
|1993 6th Annual Chicago Film Critics Awards||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Director||Andrew Davis||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Tommy Lee Jones||Nominated|
|1993 Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Feature Film||Donald O. Mitchell, Michael Herbick, Frank A. Montaño, Scott D. Smith||Won|
|Directors Guild of America Awards 1993||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Andrew Davis||Nominated|
|1994 Edgar Awards||Best Motion Picture||Jeb Stuart, David Twohy||Nominated|
|1994 51st Golden Globe Awards||Best Director - Motion Picture||Andrew Davis||Nominated|
|Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama||Harrison Ford||Nominated|
|Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture||Tommy Lee Jones||Won|
|Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards 1993||Best Supporting Actor||Tommy Lee Jones||Won|
|19th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1993||Best Supporting Actor||Tommy Lee Jones||Won|
|1994 MTV Movie Awards||Best Movie||Nominated|
|Best Male Performance||Harrison Ford||Nominated|
|Best On-Screen Duo||Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones||Won|
|Best Action Sequence||Train Wreck||Won|
|National Society of Film Critics Awards 1993||Best Supporting Actor||Tommy Lee Jones||Nominated|
|Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards 1993||Best Supporting Actor||Tommy Lee Jones||Won|
|1994 Writers Guild of America Award||Best Adapted Screenplay||Jeb Stuart, David Twohy||Nominated|
American Film Institute Lists
The film was released on VHS and DVD in the United States on March 26, 1997. A special edition widescreen DVD was released on June 5, 2001. The film generated $97 million in revenue from video rentals.
In 2009, a repackaged variant was released. Special features on the DVD include behind-the-scenes documentaries, audio commentary by Tommy Lee Jones and director Andrew Davis, an introduction with the film's stars and creators, and the theatrical trailer.
The film was released on Blu-ray on September 26, 2006. Special features include commentary by Tommy Lee Jones and director Andrew Davis, two documentaries, and the theatrical trailer. The audio and visual quality received negative reviews, with Blu-ray.com calling it "mostly abysmal". A 20th anniversary Blu-ray edition was released on September 3, 2013 with a new transfer, along with DTS-HD Master Audio tracking among other features.
Jones returned as Gerard in a 1998 spin-off, U.S. Marshals. It also incorporates Gerard's team hunting an escaped fugitive, but does not involve Harrison Ford as Kimble or the events of the initial 1993 feature.
Also in 1998, a parody film Wrongfully Accused, based on The Fugitive, was developed with Leslie Nielsen portraying the principal character. Although the film spoofs many other motion pictures such as Mission Impossible and Titanic, the storyline revolves around Nielsen's character being framed for a murder, as he escapes from federal custody to seek out the real suspect behind the crime. A 1995 Indian film, Criminal, was inspired by The Fugitive, but there are some variations in the plot.
In other media
A short-lived TV series remake (CBS, October 6, 2000 – May 25, 2001) of the same name also aired, starring Tim Daly as Kimble, Mykelti Williamson as Gerard, and Stephen Lang as the one-armed man. It was filmed in various places, including Seattle, Washington. CBS canceled the series after one season, leaving a cliffhanger unresolved.
Jeanne Kalogridis wrote a mass-market paperback novelization of the film. She worked from the original screenplay, which characterizes a doctor unjustly accused of a crime, while being pursued relentlessly by federal authorities.
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- Dillard, J.M. (1993). The Fugitive. Island Books. ISBN 978-0-440-21743-5.
- Further reading
- Deane, Bill (2006). Following the Fugitive: An Episode Guide And Handbook to the 1960s Television Series. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-786-42631-7.
- Abaygo, Kenn (1997). Advanced Fugitive: Running, Hiding, Surviving And Thriving Forever. Paladin Press. ISBN 978-0-873-64933-9.
- Janssen, Ellie (1997). My Fugitive. Lifetime Books Inc. ISBN 978-0-811-90857-3.
- Bernstein, Arnie (1998). Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100 Years of Chicago & the Movies. Lake Claremont Press. ISBN 978-0-964-24262-3.
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