U.S. Marshals (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stuart Baird|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Edited by||Terry Rawlings|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$102.4 million|
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 the motion picture studios of Warner Bros. and Kopelson Entertainment. Theatrically, it was commercially distributed by Warner Bros. and by the Warner Home Video division for home media markets. On March 10, 1998, the original motion picture soundtrack was released by the Varèse Sarabande music label. The soundtrack was composed and orchestrated by musician 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, police arrest tow truck driver Mark Warren for possession of an illegal handgun and discover that he is federal fugitive Mark Roberts, wanted for a double homicide. Roberts boards a prisoner transport aircraft back to New York, sharing the flight with Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, who is escorting another prisoner to the transport's first stop in Memphis. A Chinese prisoner armed with a zip gun tries to kill Roberts mid-flight but in the struggle, the bullet pierces a window, depressurizing the cabin and sending the prisoner to his death, along with another Marshal. The plane makes an emergency crash landing in Southern Illinois, where Roberts flees and Gerard issues a manhunt for the escapee. DSS Director Bertram Lamb reveals that Roberts' fingerprints ID him as the killer of his DSS agents and assigns DSS Special Agent John Royce to join Gerard's team to hunt Roberts. Gerard inspects Royce's firearm and dismissively insists Royce replace it with a Glock.
After traveling to New York City and securing money, weapons and fake identification, Roberts surveilles 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 too late that he has been murdered by Chen.
Gerard acquires the surveillance footage of the murders and discover Roberts killed the agents in self-defense and was wearing gloves; thus he could not have been identified by fingerprints at the scene as Lamb claimed. Confronted with the evidence, Lamb admits that Mark Roberts is in fact Mark Sheridan, a former Force Recon Marine, who was working as an unofficial operative for the government. The DSS is investigating a mole within the U.S. State Department selling covert secrets to China, believed to be Sheridan. The agents were tailing Chen, a Chinese intelligence agent who was the contact between China and the mole, 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 where 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 try and clear his name, Chen inadvertently kills Barrows while trying to shoot Sheridan. Marshals Savannah Cooper and Bob Biggs apprehend Chen, 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 Newman, giving Sheridan the opportunity to jump off the roof and onto a moving subway. Royce gives false information to Gerard, claiming that Sheridan shot Newman, who later dies of his injuries before he can reveal the truth.
Gerard, out for revenge, abandons his team and takes Royce along while following up on a new lead. 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 unloads his Glock at Sheridan, hitting him in the shoulder, and the marshals take Sheridan into custody.
At the hospital, Gerard recognizes the gun that killed Newman as Royce's old firearm. He leaves Royce alone and Royce goes in the hospital room, revealing himself to Sheridan as the mole who set him up just when Gerard walks in and questions Royce about killing Newman. Royce admits to being the mole, and to killing Newman since he witnessed Royce trying to kill Sheridan, then tells Gerard that he's doing the same thing, when Royce attempts to pull out his backup firearm, Gerard shoots and kills him first.
Sheridan is publicly exonerated at a government hearing and makes peace with Gerard, who then gives his team a backhanded apology before they depart to honor Newman's memory.
- Tommy Lee Jones as Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard
- Wesley Snipes as Mark J. Sheridan/Mark Roberts/Mark Warren
- Robert Downey Jr. as Special Agent John Royce, the hidden but true main antagonist of the film
- Joe Pantoliano as Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
- Daniel Roebuck as Deputy U.S. Marshal Bob Biggs
- Tom Wood as Deputy U.S. Marshal Noah Newman
- LaTanya Richardson as Deputy U.S. Marshal Savannah Cooper
- Irène Jacob as Marie Bineaux
- Kate Nelligan as United States Marshal Catherine Walsh
- Patrick Malahide as Director Bertram Lamb
- Rick Snyder as Special Agent Frank Barrows
- Michael Paul Chan as Xiang Chen
Filming locations for the film included, Metropolis, Illinois; Bay City, Illinois; Shawneetown, Illinois; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; Benton, Kentucky; and at Reelfoot Lake, in Lake County, Tennessee.
|U.S. Marshals: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by Jerry Goldsmith|
|Released||March 10, 1998|
Music and soundtrack
The original motion picture soundtrack for U.S. Marshals was released by the Varèse Sarabande music label on March 10, 1998. The score for the film was orchestrated by Jerry Goldsmith and mixed by Bruce Botnick. Kenneth Hall edited the film's music.
Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 26% based on reviews from 34 critics, with an average score of 5 out of 10. 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. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
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." 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." 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." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly opined that U.S. Marshals was "Lean, tense, and satisfyingly tricky."
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." 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." 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."
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." 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." 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."
U.S. Marshals premiered in cinemas on March 6, 1998 in wide release throughout the United States. During that weekend, the film opened in 2nd place, grossing $16,863,988 at 2,817 locations. The film Titanic was in 1st place during that weekend, with $17,605,849 in revenue. 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. During its final week in release, U.S. Marshals was in 60th place, grossing a marginal $16,828 in revenue. U.S. Marshals went on to top out domestically at $57,167,405 in total ticket sales through its theatrical run. For 1998 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 36.
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. 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.
In supplemental fashion, a VHS format version of the film was released on February 2, 1999. 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. An additional viewing option for the film in the media format of Video on demand has been made available as well.
In other media
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- Ebert, Roger (6 March 1998). "U.S. Marshals". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Shulgasser, Barbara (6 March 1998). Entertaining action in "Marshals'. The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Howe, Desson (6 March 1998). 'U.S. Marshals' Gets Its Man. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
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- LaSalle, Mick (6 March 1998). 'Marshals' Way Off The Mark / 'Fugitive' formula fails Jones, Snipes. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Berardinelli, James (6 March 1998). U.S. Marshals. ReelViews. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Hunter, Stephen (6 March 1998). 'U.S. Marshals' Runs Out of Steam. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan (March 1998). U.S. Marshals. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- McDonagh, Maitland (March 1998). U.S. Marshals: Review. TV Guide. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "March 6-8, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "March 13-15, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
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- Collins, Max (1998). U.S. Marshals: A Novel. Berkley Boulevard Books. ISBN 978-0-425-16438-9.
- Collins, Max Allan (1998). U.S. Marshals: A Novel. Berkley Boulevard Books. ISBN 978-0-425-16438-9.
- Sorrento, Matthew (2012). The New American Crime Film. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-45920-9.
- Parish, James (2002). Hollywood Bad Boys : Loud, Fast, and Out of Control. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-071-38137-6.
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