Making the Grades
This is the recycle decade, and Hollywood's in style. In U.S. Marshals, Tommy Lee Jones' Oscar-winning character, Marshal Sam Gerard from The Fugitive, is still on the hunt. This time Gerard is after a man called Sheridan (Wesley Snipes), a tow-truck driver whose fingerprints have shown up on a gun used in a New York City shooting. Gerard is certain that Sheridan is his man and determinedly chases him through swamps, cemeteries, and a care home for the elderly; but the audience is still wondering who the real criminal is.
Like The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals is full of intense action and violence. Many are killed, shot, and otherwise disposed of in the name of plot advancement. Some shootings are fairly explicit, with the victims being shown full on with generous amounts of movie blood. Of course language is rough and includes the singular use of a sexual expletive (as most PG-13 films do) along with many other lesser profanities and terms of Deity.
Unlike The Fugitive, this movie's script suffers from a few "why did he do that?" flaws. For instance, Gerard is convinced he is hunting a hardened, dangerous criminal. It takes him a while to notice that Sheridan is the only person in the film trying not to kill anyone. Still, the hunt continues. Later, Gerard views a security camera videotape and discovers what we already know, but he still pursues Sheridan. Gerard is the victim of a writer who is desperate to sustain the level of action (and violence) until the very end, even if it means compromising the integrity of the script.
This movie is rated PG-13 (most movies of this genre are rated R), but parents will want to be cautious about showing U.S. Marshals even to older teens. Justice may prevail in the end, but at an exceptional cost. If Gerard was as good a cop as he claims to be, he should have had this case locked up at the one hour mark... think of how many lives that would have saved!