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Film: U.S. Marshals

U.S. Marshals is a 1998 Spin-Off to The Fugitive (1993), directed by Stuart Baird. This was his second film, following Executive Decision (1996). Tommy Lee Jones returns to his role of Marshal Samuel Gerard. This time the "antagonist" is Wesley Snipes, and Robert Downey, Jr. also co-stars.

At the start of the film a man gets involved in a traffic accident and arrested. He is identified as Mark Roberts (Snipes), a federal fugitive wanted for a double homicide in a Manhattan parking garage. He and other prisoners are transported to New York City by plane. On board is Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, an unwelcome assignment. Gerard was recently involved in a publicized incident of police brutality, and in order to avoid bad publicity for the service, his boss has him transporting prisoners for a while. In mid-flight, one of the prisoners pulls out a concealed weapon and fires at Roberts. He misses but the bullet travels through a window and depressurizes the cabin of the plane, resulting in a plane crash.

Once Gerard recovers, he notices a single prisoner unaccounted for: Mark Roberts. Worse, the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) informs the Marshals that "Roberts" is actually Mark Sheridan, an operative of their service who murdered his fellow agents while selling state secrets to unidentified agents of another country. None of this really matters to Gerard, who really just wants to catch him. Meanwhile, Sheridan is heading to New York City on his own, intent on clearing his name.

Things become significantly more complicated almost immediately, as it turns out there's a lot more to the crime, a lot more to Sheridan, and a lot more at stake than anyone thought...


Tropes seen in US Marshals include:

  • Blunder Correcting Impulse: The local sheriff is attempting to set up a dragnet for the missing prisoner, but for a justifiable reason (he's not used to dealing with runaway fugitives in his jurisdiction), his plan is so inept that Gerard repeatedly interjects to offer suggestions. Eventually, the sheriff asks him, "What do you think?" and Gerard immediately lays out his own plan.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Besides the literal one mentioned below, there is an early scene of Mark Sheridan taking medicine with water on the plane. We don't learn until later that Sheridan gets motion sickness which ultimately gets him caught.
  • Clear My Name: The motivation for Mark Sheridan.
  • Cool Guns: Gerard tells DSS Special Agent John Royce (Robert Downey, Jr..) to "Get yourself a Glock and lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol," referring to Royce's Taurus. It becomes a major plot point (a literal Chekhov's Gun) later in the movie.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Noah
  • Fanservice: Kate Nelligan, playing Gerard's boss. Her only apparent purpose in this film is to wear an inappropriately short skirt.
  • Flashed Badge Hijack: Gerard pulls this.
  • Go On Without Me: Marie all but says this to Mark when she realizes that he can't pull her over the wall blocking their escape.
  • Heroic BSOD: Gerard, after Noah gets shot and killed.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: At one point, Gerard checks his villainous partner's gun and gives it back to him. When said partner tries to use it on him, minutes later, it doesn't fire. Gerard had switched magazines without Royce noticing, which he points out in the following quote.
    Gerard: (takes magazine out of pocket) "I've got yours, you've got mine."
  • Job Title
  • The Mole: It turns out that Sheridan is not the mole, but is actively looking for him right up until the end when he gives up and attempts to flee the country.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech
  • Retcon: A strange one. Noah Newman is depicted in this movie as being "just a kid", or a rookie. It's strange since, Newman's actor was 35 at the time of shooting, and was 30 during filming of The Fugitive. Also, in The Fugitive, Noah is not once referred to as being "a kid", and is also seen as being as competent, and experienced as the other marshals.
  • Stairwell Chase: This time, unlike in the previous film, Sheridan is pursued UP the stairs by Gerard and Royce.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: L. Scott Caldwell's character Poole does not appear in this sequel. The character is replaced with a character named Cooper, and played by La Tanya Richardson.
  • Try And Follow: Sheridan jumps off the roof of a building, using a rope to swing over to the 125th Street Metro-North station, then jumps onto the departing train to evade Gerard.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Played unbelievably straight, even more so than in its predecessor. In the course of proving his innocence and attempting to flee the country, Sheridan commits numerous felonies, including kidnapping, assault, and even attempted murder (when he shoots Gerard, even if he did deliberately aim for his bullet-proof vest) of a federal agent. His girlfriend counts as well, for aiding and abetting him the whole way, and what's more, given that she might not yet be a US citizen, or even in the country legally; her actions could have resulted in her being deported. But when the movie ends, they're all strolling out of a courthouse with a few throwaway lines about how he has been "cleared of all charges".
    • Although in this case, it could be because his actions helped to uncover a massive espionage ring. There's something to be said for doing some good when he could have just run.

Urban LegendFilms of the 1990sVelvet Goldmine

alternative title(s): US Marshals
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