5) US Marshals (1998)
Right after breaking out of prison, you go on the run and the manhunt starts. A sequel to The Fugitive, US Marshals came when Snipes was most in demand. Blade came a year later, now there’s a real comic book movie. Funny, this is also the third movie from the ’90s where Snipes gets attacked on an out of control airplane. Anyway, this one was shat on by critics. Why? It’s a strong movie, no classic but more than watchable. It’s a political action thriller with strong set pieces; plane crash (escape), swamp scene (evasion), Snipes’ framing (capture/political intrigue). I’m glad Snipes got the role as opposed to someone like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is one of Hollywood’s best trolls.
Nutjob convict John Voight and prison prize fighter Eric Roberts bust out of the joint and board a train, one that happens to be out of control, a good metaphor. On their ass is the prison warden, equally as nuts as Voight. Like I said in a full review of this movie, in Runaway Train, the cons are just out to break free. There is no framing or conspiracy, Eric Roberts even admits he’d “rather go to fucking jail” than work on minimum wage cleaning toilets. This is like recent disaster flick ‘Unstoppable’ but instead of men with financial and family problems, the protagonists are two whiskey-swigging crazy men out for a ride. Pursued by a warden openly declaring intention to murder upon capture – not sure that one is in the rulebook, warden. It’s honest, funny and does what 90% of disaster movies don’t: provides breakneck thrills.
Charles Bronson rescues a dog from a dogfight and gets framed for stealing it. So the local lawman and about 70 hicks chase Bronson who goes on the run. Like the title suggests, the ‘Hunt’ the hicks are planning in this movie is not one about capture. So in the movie, Bronson is a former special operations soldier being chased through the wilderness by a raging mob with screaming hounds. This is First Blood set in the 1930’s. Bronson lives off the land but unlike John Rambo in Jerkwater, Bronson has no problem killing his pursuers. “Leave me be”, comes the one and only warning. And once it is not heeded, backs of heads get blown out by Bronson and locals take photographs of bodies stacked-high courtesy of Bronson’s rifle. Maybe it was because they killed his dog, maybe its because he enjoyed it, but the lesson is: Don’t fuck with Bronson in them there hills. The lesson is: Leave him be.
2) The Fugitive (1993)
Is this Harrison Ford’s best movie? Possibly. This is an early example of a working remake/adaption, funny how these only happened 20 years ago when it genuinely looked like it would be good. At no point is this movie relaxed. Its taut and exciting right from the beginning. Ford has the death penalty, so he only has one option. Necessity is the mother of creativity and nothing will motivate more than the gas chamber, so we get the best out of a thinking (and vulnerable) man on the run. The Fugitive shows a real manhunt and Jones’ no bullshit US Marshal only adds to the tension. The “I don’t care” scene and its lack of empathy is classic. There are some big and genuinely thrilling action scenes here too. Ford may have outran a giant rock in Indiana Jones, but here he’s outrunning a derailed freight train.
1) First Blood (1982)
Stallone heads on into Jerkwater, USA, looking “for something to eat”. Well, that kinda thing is unacceptable to the local Sheriff who takes Stallone in. And after a rampaging escape from the Police Department, the hunt is on. The best Rambo movie, the best Stallone movie and the best manhunt movie. Rambo is the ultimate weapon, retreating to the wilderness and eating things that’ll make a billy goat puke. After being pushed by “that king-shit cop”, the Green Beret gets pissed and turns on his pursuers. Bringing in half the National Guard only serves to madden the veteran. Stallone looks damned near Terminator-like in his efficiency. I mean, you just love how within minutes one solitary survival knife is put to all sorts of uses. Something Stallone later references in Rambo II. Raw, thrilling and down to Earth. And the hero doesn’t get away either. Ground breaking.