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Movie Review

U.S. Marshals

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and profanity

Reviewed by: Rick Oie
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action
Length:
125 min.
Year of Release:
1998

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey Jr., Kate Nelligan, Joe Pantoliano / Director: Stuart Baird / Released by: Warner Bros.

“U.S. Marshals” is the continuing saga of Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), one of the top deputies in the U.S. Marshal’s office. The story jumps right into the plot line from the opening credits, showing top secret American intelligence being sold to the Chinese. The sale is thwarted by DSS agents. Unfortunately, the agents are killed in a skirmish with the bad guy who gets away. In Chicago, Gerard and his team make an arrest on a gang of thugs in typical movieland style: lots of punches thrown and some gun play. Because of the roughness of the arrest, Gerard is ordered to escort the prisoner during extradition and then take some time off to go fishing. At the same time Mark Roberts (Wesley Snipes), an ex-CIA special ops man, is arrested after being involved in an accident because he was tied into the espionage charge. He is extradited to New York and as it so happens, is sharing a plane with Gerard. After a prisoner-induced mishap the plane is forced to make a fiery crash landing on a rural highway allowing Mark Roberts the perfect opportunity to flee. This begins a long and involved manhunt through the swamps. DSS agent John Royce (Robert Downey Jr.) joins in on the hunt to avenge the death of his fallen fellow agents.

I enjoyed watching the plot twists of this movie. As time draws on you begin to wonder who’s telling the truth and who can be trusted. The movie didn’t rely heavily on special effects or spectacular stunts. There was, of course, the plane crash, along with a couple car wrecks, and a long jump off a tall building to keep it exciting, but the story moved along at a good rate all by itself. I saw some similarities to “The Fugitive” (the crash allows for a prisoner to escape and the prisoner is running to prove his own innocence) but it really had its own unique story. I didn’t feel like I was watching a recycled script.

From a Christian perspective, this is one of the better action films I’ve seen in quite a while. The language was mild with only a smattering of curse words throughout the movie. There was some violence, fighting, gunshots, etc. but even that wasn’t overly graphic or gory. The thing I noticed the most was a complete absence of nudity, or sexual content of any kind.

I would only recommend this movie for mature teens and adults, not because of the content, but because the story line is fairly complex and difficult to follow at times. I think young teens would have a hard time following the plot and would most likely lose interest. Adults will enjoy trying to figure out who was involved in what. Jones also delivers a few classic one-liners that had our group rolling.

I was a little disappointed with the way that several critical plot elements were skipped over throughout the show. Even at the end there wasn’t a clear explanation of how everyone was involved in the espionage operation. I also felt that Snipe’s character could have had a little more dialog and screen time. He seemed to pop up only on occasion without much explanation of how he got from place to place.

Putting that aside, I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys action films. It was definitely worth the price of admission.

Viewer Comments
A good action movie. Worth the two hours if you can stomach the violence. One close range shooting was heavy enough material for R rated L.A. Confidential. What’s it doing in PG-13? Since this type of movie is entertainment only with nothing deep to glean, the violence is even more out of place. Enough of that, I enjoyed the story a lot more than I expected. I would watch it again except this time at home with a remote controller to fast forward a few violent scenes.
—Todd Adams, age 30
I enjoyed this movie also (although I don’t think it comes close to matching “The Fugitive”) but I disagree with the reviewer saying there was little bad language. There was quite a bit, it seemed to me. Although I may not be remembering correctly as the people sitting behind me in the theatre swore quite a bit more then the movie did (that was rather annoying). I disagree with the one person who says there was 74 swear words though… There was quite a bit but not that much. I’d recommend it for anyone over the age of 16 who enjoys action films.
—Tim Grass, age 19
I really enjoyed the film, and it was, indeed, a clean movie. It was not immensely gory, though the one shooting was rather bloody and sad as well. I recommend it for anyone who enjoyed “The Fugitive,” though it is not the same by any means. The presence of Harrison Ford was sorely missed (He is a great actor!) but Snipes played a good role, and the changes in his physical appearance in order to avoid suspicion were entertaining. Not very much profanity, and no nudity or indecent sexual behavior. I was impressed by that. Tommy Lee Jones also did an excellent job.
—Melanie, age 17
Since most reviews of this movie elsewhere have been negative, I was glad to have read this review, and other initial responses. Based on that, I took my eleven year old son to it—and we both thoroughly enjoyed it! I’d prepared him that he’d hear some language we don’t use or approve, and probably see some violence, but that I thought (hoped) it would be a fun action film. And that it was. Sure, he likely did not follow all of the plot intricacies, but he followed enough, and the pacing and action kept him on the edge of his seat, as it did for me. We had a good chat about it afterward. If you don’t like action movies, don’t bother. If you do, this is a good one. And I am finding that, though I am not at all pleased with every one of the movies Tommy Lee Jones has chosen to do, I do enjoy his acting greatly. He’s great in this one.
—Dan, age 42
“U.S. Marshalls” was a great movie! Personally I thought it was better than “The Fugitive” althought it just wasn’t the same without Harrison Ford. The acting in this movie was superb. I give it a two thumbs up!
—Thomas Burke, age 16
I really enjoyed this movie, and I agree with the reviewer on his points. Was I the only one who was confused when this film started? People with briefcases, people getting shot, no one is recognizable? In fact, I was really surprised to learn that Wesley Snipes was involved in the beginning because of not being able to tell who was who. That aside, it’s a very good movie. (Again, sift through the vermin and get to the good flour.)
—Jerome Bush, age 45
I just read your review, and the comments of several others on your site. Then I turned to another Christian Preview magazine to discover that there are 74 instances of bad language. …Based on additional research, I won’t make the mistake [of viewing this film]…
—Tim Hoag, age 39