U.S. Marshals (film)

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U.S. Marshals
U.S. Marshals (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStuart Baird
Produced byAnne Kopelson
Arnold Kopelson
Written byRoy Huggins
John Pogue
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyAndrzej Bartkowiak
Edited byTerry Rawlings
Kopelson Entertainment
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 6, 1998 (1998-03-06) (United States)
Running time
131 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million
Box office$102.4 million[1]

U.S. Marshals is a 1998 American action crime thriller film directed by Stuart Baird. The storyline was conceived from a screenplay written by Roy Huggins and John Pogue. The film is a spin-off to the 1993 motion picture The Fugitive, which in turn was based on the television series of the same name, created by Huggins. The story does not involve the character of Dr. Richard Kimble, portrayed by Harrison Ford in the initial film, but instead the plot centers on United States Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard, once again played by Tommy Lee Jones. The plot follows Gerard and his team as they pursue another fugitive, Mark Sheridan, played by Wesley Snipes, who attempts to escape government officials following an international conspiracy scandal. The cast features Robert Downey Jr., Joe Pantoliano, Daniel Roebuck, Tom Wood, and LaTanya Richardson, several of whom portrayed Deputy Marshals in the previous film.

The film was a co-production between Warner Bros. and Kopelson Entertainment. The score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

U.S. Marshals premiered in theaters in the United States on March 6, 1998, grossing $57 million in its domestic run. The film took in an additional $45 million through international release for a worldwide total of $102 million. The film was generally met with mixed critical reviews. The film was released on home video on July 21, 1998.


In New York, security cameras in a United Nations parking garage record two Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents attempting to intercept a briefcase exchange between two men. One man kills the agents; the other escapes with top secret information.

In Chicago, months later, and after a car crash, police arrest tow truck driver Mark Warren for possession of an illegal handgun and discover that he is federal fugitive Mark Roberts, wanted for the double homicide of the DSS agents. Roberts boards a prisoner transport aircraft back to New York, sharing it with Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, who is escorting another prisoner. A Chinese prisoner armed with a zip gun tries to kill Roberts but a bullet pierces a window, depressurizing the cabin and sending the assassin and another Marshal to their deaths. The plane makes an emergency crash landing in Western Kentucky, where Roberts flees the sinking aircraft and Gerard issues a manhunt for the escapee. DSS Director Bertram Lamb assigns DSS Special Agent John Royce to join Gerard's team. Gerard inspects Royce's firearm and dismissively insists Royce replace it with a Glock. Roberts is tracked by the team to a swamp, where he takes Royce's gun and shoots Gerard with it, who is wearing a bulletproof vest, allowing him to escape.

After traveling to New York City and securing money, weapons and fake identification from an old teammate within Force Recon, Roberts tails Chinese diplomat Xiang Chen, the other man from the parking garage. In Chicago, Gerard and the Marshals pursue several leads, including Roberts' girlfriend Marie Bineaux. Roberts secretly contacts Bineaux to explain that he secretly worked for the government and was ambushed during a routine exchange, killing the men before realizing they were DSS agents. The Marshals track the airplane mechanic who was bribed to hide the zip gun and discover that he has been murdered by Chen. Gerard acquires the surveillance footage of the murders and finds Roberts killed the agents in self-defense and was wearing gloves, thus could not have been identified by fingerprints at the scene as Lamb claimed. Lamb admits that Roberts is in fact Mark Sheridan, a former Force Recon Marine and CIA Special Activities Division operator working as an unofficial operative for the government, who they believe is a mole within the U.S. State Department selling covert secrets to China. The agents were tailing Chen, a Chinese intelligence agent who was the mole's contact, but when they tried to intercept the exchange, Sheridan killed them and fled.

Eventually, Gerard and his team catch up with Sheridan in Queens Hill Cemetery as he ambushes DSS Special Agent Frank Barrows, who conspired with the mole to frame Sheridan by duping him into making the exchange. As Sheridan holds Barrows hostage to clear his name, Chen inadvertently kills Barrows while trying to shoot Sheridan. Chen is apprehended, while Sheridan flees to a retirement home followed by Gerard, Royce and Marshal Noah Newman. During a struggle, Royce disarms Sheridan and holds him at gunpoint. Before Royce can kill Sheridan, Newman walks into the room and Royce shoots him, giving Sheridan the opportunity to escape off the roof and onto a moving subway train. Royce claims Sheridan shot Newman, who dies before he can reveal the truth.

A vengeful Gerard abandons his team, taking Royce along as they track Sheridan to a loading dock in Bayonne, New Jersey, where he is stowing away on a freighter bound for Canada. Gerard confronts, fights and nearly kills Sheridan but lets his guard down, enabling Sheridan to get the upper hand. Royce fires his new Glock at Sheridan, hitting him in the shoulder, who is taken into custody. At the hospital, Gerard recognizes the gun that killed Newman as Royce's old firearm. Royce goes into Sheridan's room and admits he is the mole, giving Sheridan a knife to make his intended murder appear as self-defense. Gerard walks in and confronts Royce about killing Newman. Royce tries to shoot Gerard for catching him in the act like before, but Gerard had emptied Royce's Glock beforehand. When Royce attempts to draw his backup firearm, Gerard shoots and kills him first.

Sheridan is publicly exonerated at a government hearing and makes peace with Gerard, who gives his team a backhanded apology before they depart to honor Newman's memory.


Wesley Snipes, who portrayed Mark Sheridan.



Filming locations included, Metropolis, Illinois; Bay City; Shawneetown; Chicago (all Illinois); New York; Benton, Kentucky; and at Reelfoot Lake, in Lake County, Tennessee.[2]

U.S. Marshals: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by
ReleasedMarch 10, 1998
LabelVarèse Sarabande

Music and soundtrack[edit]

The original motion picture soundtrack for U.S. Marshals was released by the Varèse Sarabande music label on March 10, 1998.[3] The score for the film was composed by Jerry Goldsmith and mixed by Bruce Botnick. Kenneth Hall edited the film's music.[4]


Critical response[edit]

Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received mixed reviews.[5] Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 26% based on reviews from 34 critics, with an average score of 5 out of 10.[6] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, U.S. Marshals was given a score of 47 based on 20 reviews.[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

The result is unconvincing and disorganized. Yes, there are some spectacular stunts and slick special effects sequences. Yes, Jones is right on the money, and Snipes makes a sympathetic fugitive. But it's the story that has to pull this train, and its derailment is about as definitive as the train crash in the earlier film.

—Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times[8]

Barbara Shulgasser, writing in The San Francisco Examiner, commented in positive sentiment about the acting, saying, "The film's pacing is unimpeachable and good performances are delivered by Jones, Snipes, Irene Jacob as Sheridan's loyal girlfriend and, for brief moments, Kate Nelligan as Gerard's tough but lovable boss."[9] Left impressed, Desson Howe in The Washington Post noted how "Every story beat is expertly planned and executed." Howe also praised director Baird, exclaiming how he "runs the show with a smart eye and a metronome ticking somewhere in his mind."[10] In a mixed to negative review, Russell Smith of The Austin Chronicle bluntly deduced that, "Unlike Kimble, whose innocence and decency are known from the beginning in The Fugitive, Sheridan is a total cipher to both Gerard and the audience until deep into this two-hours-plus film. Ergo, we can't be expected to give a rat's ass what happens to him — and don't."[11] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly opined that U.S. Marshals was "Lean, tense, and satisfyingly tricky."[12]

The film however, was not without its detractors. Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert, giving the film two and a half stars out of four, observed, "I didn't expect U.S. Marshals to be the equal of The Fugitive, and it isn't. But I hoped it would approach the taut tension of the 1993 film, and it doesn't. It has extra scenes, needless characters, an aimless plot and a solution that the hero seems to keep learning and then forgetting."[8] In a primarily negative review, Mick LaSalle, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, called the film "a bad idea to begin with." He noted his confusion with the plot, remarking, "the movie tells us from the beginning that the fugitive is not quite innocent. He killed two fellow agents in self-defense. All this does is muddy the moral waters, making us queasy about the one guy we like. At no point is there ever a compelling reason to keep watching."[13] Describing a mild negative opinion, James Berardinelli of ReelViews professed Marshal Gerard as exhibiting "only a token resemblance to the character who doggedly pursued Kimball in The Fugitive. As re-invented here, Gerard is a generic action hero; most of the quirks that made him interesting (and that earned Jones an Oscar) are absent. With a few minor re-writes, John McClane from the Die Hard movies could have been plugged into this role."[14]

Snipes is luckless in the part, which merely demands a lot of scowling, then moving aside to let the stunt double take over. (The movie's other big treat features that nameless individual, who leaps off a building and swings, as if on a bungee cord, to a nearby station roof, then races after the train pulling out and leaps to land upon its roof; that's fun, but it's no movie in itself.)

—Stephen Hunter, writing in The Washington Post[15]

Dissatisfied with the film's quality, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader said that it was "Not so much a sequel to The Fugitive as a lazy spin-off that imitates only what was boring and artificially frenetic about that earlier thriller; the little that kept it interesting—Tommy Lee Jones's Oscar-winning inflections, better-than-average direction—is nowhere in evidence."[16] Stephen Hunter, writing for The Washington Post, reasoned, "It turns out to be one of those lame double-agent things where everybody's working for everybody else, the security of Taiwan (Taiwan!) is at stake, and it never quite lurches into clarity or acquires any real emotional punch. I didn't think the end of The Fugitive was so great either: Who wants to watch doctors fistfight on a roof? But by the time it winds down, U.S. Marshals has all but destroyed itself."[15] Film critic Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide was not consumed with the nature of the subject matter, declaring, "To every hit there is a season, and a time for every sequel under heaven — no matter what narrative contortions it takes." She later surmised, "The minute Gerard mocks Royce's 'nickel-plated sissy pistol,' it's clear they're headed for a cathartic showdown, and anyone who can't see which member of Gerard's merry band might as well be wearing a 'Dead Meat Walking' T-shirt really shouldn't be allowed to operate complicated machinery."[17]

Box office[edit]

U.S. Marshals premiered in cinemas on March 6, 1998 in wide release throughout the United States.[1] During that weekend, the film opened in 2nd place, grossing $16,863,988 at 2,817 locations.[1] The film Titanic was in 1st place during that weekend, with $17,605,849 in revenue.[18] The film's revenue dropped by 32% in its second week of release, earning $11,355,259. For that particular weekend, the film fell to 3rd place with the same theater count. The continuing success of Titanic remained unchallenged in 1st place with $17,578,815 in box office business.[19] During its final week in release, U.S. Marshals was in 60th place, grossing a marginal $16,828 in revenue.[20][21] U.S. Marshals went on to top out domestically at $57,167,405 in total ticket sales through its theatrical run.[1] For 1998 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 36.[22]

Home media[edit]

Following its cinematic release, the Region 1 Code widescreen edition of the film was released on DVD in the U.S. on July 21, 1998. Special features for the DVD include; interactive behind-the-scenes documentary - Anatomy of the Plane Crash; historical documentary - Justice Under the Star; feature-length commentary by director Stuart Baird; interactive menus; production notes; two theatrical trailers; three TV spots; and scene access.[23] Additionally, a Special Edition repackaged DVD was also released on November 3, 2009. Special features include; a closed caption option; interactive behind-the-scenes documentary - Anatomy of the Plane Crash; historical documentary - Justice Under the Star; feature length commentary by director Stuart Baird; two theatrical trailers; and three TV spots.[24]

In supplemental fashion, a VHS format version of the film was released on February 2, 1999.[25] A restored widescreen hi-definition Blu-ray Disc version of the film was released on June 5, 2012. Special features include; two documentaries - Anatomy of the plane crash and Justice under the star; commentary by director Stuart Baird; and the theatrical trailer.[26] An additional viewing option for the film in the media format of Video on demand has been made available as well.[27]

In other media[edit]

A novelization of the film, U.S. Marshals: A Novel, written by Max Allan Collins, was released on March 1, 1998.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "U.S. Marshals (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  2. ^ "U.S. Marshals Production Details". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  3. ^ "U.S. Marshals: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  4. ^ "U.S. Marshals: Cast & Crew". MSN Movies. Archived from the original on 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Marshals". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  6. ^ "U.S. Marshals (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  7. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
  8. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (6 March 1998). "U.S. Marshals". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  9. ^ Shulgasser, Barbara (6 March 1998). Entertaining action in "Marshals'. The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  10. ^ Howe, Desson (6 March 1998). 'U.S. Marshals' Gets Its Man. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  11. ^ Smith, Russell (6 March 1998). U.S. Marshals. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  12. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1998). U.S. Marshals. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  13. ^ LaSalle, Mick (6 March 1998). 'Marshals' Way Off The Mark / 'Fugitive' formula fails Jones, Snipes. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  14. ^ Berardinelli, James (6 March 1998). U.S. Marshals. ReelViews. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  15. ^ a b Hunter, Stephen (6 March 1998). 'U.S. Marshals' Runs Out of Steam. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  16. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (March 1998). U.S. Marshals. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  17. ^ McDonagh, Maitland (March 1998). U.S. Marshals: Review. TV Guide. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  18. ^ "March 6-8, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  19. ^ "March 13-15, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  20. ^ "U.S. Marshals". The Numbers. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  21. ^ "July 24-26, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  22. ^ "1998 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  23. ^ "U.S. Marshals (1998) - DVD Widescreen". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  24. ^ "U.S. Marshals DVD". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  25. ^ "U.S. Marshals [VHS] (1998)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  26. ^ "U.S. Marshals Blu-Ray". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  27. ^ "U.S. Marshals VOD Format". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  28. ^ Collins, Max (1998). U.S. Marshals: A Novel. Berkley Boulevard Books. ISBN 978-0-425-16438-9.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]