Tag Archives: The Fugitive

Tommy Lee Jones’s 10 Best Movies

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones has a career of crusty and cantankerous curmudgeons stretching back nearly 50 years.  From working oil rigs in Texas, Jones ended up at Harvard rooming with eventual US Vice-President Al Gore.  Despite some early successes in The Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Executioner’s Song, the veteran career actor really didn’t become a star until the early 1990s: after over 20 years of putting in his dues.  Lonesome Dove, JFK, Under Siege, and then his Oscar-winning turn in The Fugitive turned him into one of Hollywood’s most reliable actors.  Jones’s Texas roots always give him a grounded authenticity whether he’s playing a Man in Black, an ally of Lincoln, a military man or a grieving father.  He is a master of economy with emotional range, allotting just enough for what the scene requires, but always leaving the audience with a feeling that there’s more going on behind his steely gaze.  Quite simply, if you see Tommy Lee Jones is in a movie, you have to pay attention to it.
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Harrison Ford’s 10 Best Movies

Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford has created some of the most indelible characters in screen history: Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard, John Book, and owning existing characters like Dr. Richard Kimble or Jack Ryan.  His legacy as one of Hollywood’s greatest action stars is already cemented (though his abilities as an actor are seriously underrated; one needs only watch Witness or 42 to see how good he can be).  Defying age, Ford is making a farewell tour of the most iconic of his creations, cementing their legacy.  He’s already given Han Solo his tragic end.  Then he made a triumphant return to the world of Blade Runner, now it’s on to fix the damage to Indiana Jones that Crystal Skull inflicted.  Whether that attempt succeeds as well as Blade Runner 2049 and The Force Awakens did, Ford’s place as a legend is already secure.
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Harrison Ford’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

HarrisonFord

Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give them a grade and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give those the same treatment to see how they have been doing compares to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals and, clearly, artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Harrison Ford was, without question, the biggest star in the world in the 1980’s.  Ford owned the eighties.  It was the best run of work in his career and cemented not one but two of his characters into icon status reserved for few in the history of film.  Since, Ford has typically played the everyman character, whether this happened to be Jack Ryan, the President of the United States or a software designer.  It’s that quality that enabled him to rise from a career that began in carpentry to superstar  status.  He’s a movie star that doesn’t really seem like a movie star.

Han Solo, Harrison Ford, A New Hope, Star Wars, Chewbacca

Ford and George Lucas will always be inextricably linked (whether Ford likes it or not).  Ford’s breakout role was in Lucas’ American Graffiti, he had a small part in what many forget was orignally Lucas’ brainchild: Apocalypse Now and then he became an international legend with two of Lucas’ best characters: Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

Though Star Wars is consistently one of the topics on which I post the most articles, I’ve not yet discussed any of the films from the standpoint of critical review.  I could write several thousand words on any of them, so let’s simply for now say: Star Wars and Middle-earth are the two most dominant fictional universes and pop culture frameworks of my life.  He’s Han Solo, for crying out loud!  He’s an awesome scruffy-looking nerf herder who DID shoot first (bad George, bad).  He’s the grounding influence of the whole original trilogy.  He doesn’t care about the Force.  He just likes his ship, his big furry friend and the princess doesn’t suck either.

Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark

Concurrent to the shaping of Han Solo into an international household name, was Ford’s embodiment of another character every bit as memorable and legendary (arguably more so since this one is the film’s main character): Indiana Jones.  How much different would the pop culture landscape be if Tom Selleck had taken Indiana Jones instead of Magnum P.I.?  When he couldn’t do it, Ford stepped in and the rest is history.  While there are certainly similarities between Han and Indy (the moment in Raiders when Indy shoots the scimitar wielding maniac is totally Han), Jones is very distinct.  How many kids went off to become archaeologists inspired by the thought of crashing through ruins wielding a whip only to become tenured class-bound alcoholics?  Random thought. 

The four Indiana Jones films vary wildly in quality compared to the three Star Wars films in which Ford participated.  I think Raiders and Last Crusade are pretty perfect and don’t care for Temple or Kingdom at all.  I may like the character of Indiana Jones though best among Ford’s roles.  In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest action-adventure film of all-time.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

Harrison Ford, Peter Weir, Witness

Here’s something you may not know: Harrison Ford has an Oscar nomination.  A well-deserved Oscar nomination, I might add.  Ford rarely stretches himself, which can be maddening as a fan of his.  Rather than seek to test his talent, he’ll often make X film where he plays Y irascible, grumpy dude with a heart of gold.  As he’s done with so many other actors, Peter Weir directed Ford to a landmark performance as a cop hiding from corrupt colleagues amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch in Witness.  This, I believe, is Ford’s best performance of his career and as many people I know who love him and his films, I can count on one hand  the ones who have also seen him in Witness.  This is one of the most underrated films of the eighties so watch how good Ford can be.  Then wait nearly thirty years before he stretches himself that far again.

Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Air Force One

When Star Wars and Indiana Jones were done, Ford transitioned into Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.  He might hate to admit it, but Ford’s career has been waxed and waned with his proximity to franchises.  He’s one of the main reasons they dominate the box office today.  Patriot Games was a well-received first Ryan film, but Clear and Present Danger went nowhere critically or commercially and Ford lost interest in continuing with the character (who will be rebooted by Chris Pine on January 17th).

While the 1990’s were not a shadow of the 1980’s for Ford, he remained a top draw due primarily to his excellent work in two of the best action pictures of the decade: The Fugitive and Air Force One.  However, after 1997’s Air Force One, Ford walked in the desert for a long time before taking on anything of any quality again.  You could argue he chose poor roles, some might go so far as to say he’s lazy as an actor, but after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was largely panned by fans, Ford seemed done.  He’s in his early seventies now, after all.  Let’s look at his last ten films.

Harrison Ford, Working GirlFORD’S LATEST TEN:
1. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)………..8.00
2. Ender’s Game (2013)…………………………………………………….8.75
3. Paranoia (2013)………………………………………………………………4.00
4. 42 (2013)…………………………………………………………………………..8.75
5. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)……………………………………………..5.00
6. Morning Glory (2010)……………………………………………………6.50
7. Extraordinary Measures (2010)………………………………..7.00
8. Crossing Over (2009)…………………………………………………….6.00
9. Indiana Jones  4 (2008)………………………………………………….6.75
10. Firewall (2006) ……………………………………………………………..2.00
HARRISON FORD’S CURRENT AVERAGE: 6.275

Barely above-average is Ford’s current score, but in 2013, Ford made four movies and three of them were very good.  Ford rarely does comedy, but I’ve always liked seeing his sense of humor (heck, I liked him in Morning Glory), but he’s rarely done any comedy since Working Girl.  Ford played a ridiculously pompous anchorman in Anchorman 2, Ender Wiggins’ mentor in Ender’s Game, and Branch Rickey in 42.  Rickey, the GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers who brought Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, is a legendary figure and Ford is so good as him that it’s a shame the movie came out in March.  If it had come out in the fall, he’d be getting Oscar consideration, which would be richly deserved.  Remember that stretching I told you we’d have to wait for after Witness?  42 is when Ford decided to really throw himself into a role for the first time in God knows how long and the result is fantastic.

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Harrison Ford, Han Solo

FORD’S GREATEST TEN:
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)…10.00
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)………………………….10.00
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)………………………..10.00
The Fugitive (1993)…………………………………………….. 10.00
Witness (1985)……………………………………………………… 9.75
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)…  9.75
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)……………..  9.75
Air Force One (1997)…………………………………………… 9.25
42 (2013)…………………………………………………………………..8.75
Working Girl (1988) …………………………………………….. 8.75
HARRISON FORD’S GREATEST AVERAGE: 9.60
NEW HIGH SCORE FOR ACTORS!

Ford has been acting for forty years now and his body of work, unsurprisingly, puts his career average higher than any other actor we’ve examined in this column to date.  To be honest, it could be a lot higher, but unlike the majority of reviewers, I can’t stand American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner (which is another iconic Ford role that I discussed more in-depth when we looked at Ridley Scott)

So what’s next for Ford?  Now that he’s proven he can act again is he going to take on some great role of- no – let me stop you there and just tell you the only thing on Ford’s calendar in stone is The Expendables 3 in 2014.  However, the popular assumption is that the next time we’ll see him on-screen following that is in Star Wars Episode VII.  Ford has been pretty categorical in his lack of desire to ever play Han Solo again.  He lobbied hard for the character to be killed off in Return of the Jedi.  Lately, though, there seems to be a thaw in his stance.  We’ve not gotten any concrete details from JJ Abrams and team yet, but the popular assumption is that the original cast will come back in some capacity in Episode VII and that the Solo name may very well live on with the protagonist being Han and Leia’s daughter.  With the script due to be finalized this month, one hopes something will be thrown to the geek mobs soon.

Regardless of anything else he does, Ford is one of the biggest movie stars of the modern age.  He’s created iconic characters and embodied the everyman for an entire generation.  His place in Hollywood history is more than secure, but I doubt I’m alone in hoping we’ll get to go with him one more time to a galaxy far, far away.
Harrison Ford

My Favorite Scene: The Fugitive (1993) “Gerard Takes Control”

The only Oscar Tommy Lee Jones has won is for his portrayal of US Marshal Sam Gerard in The Fugitive. Nearly 25 years after its release, the film still stands as one of the best action-adventure movies of all-time. Film adaptations of television series are almost uniformly disastrous, but The Fugitive honored the spirit of the 1960s drama, while giving the film a deep humanity. Harrison Ford gives one of his best “action film” performances, and Tommy Lee Jones stole this movie like he was the inside man on a heist. When the film got a sequel (an awful sequel), it was Jones who was featured, not Ford. Upstaging Harrison Ford at the peak of his prowess is no small feat. Jones gave the kind of performance that grabbed the audience by the throat. You could not wait until Jones was back on-screen, no matter how good Ford was as the wrongly accused Dr. Richard Kimble. All it took was for Jones’ US Marshal to amble on-screen, look calmly around the aftermath of Kimble’s escape, and then bark this commanding, funny, compelling and stage-setting set of instructions to every law enforcement officer in the awed gaggle that surrounded him. A great script, some iconic action pieces (the escape, Kimble’s near-suicidal leap, etc.), and Ford showing up with his A-game would have made The Fugitive a really, really good film. Tommy Lee Jones made it a classic.
The Fugitive Theatrical Poster