U.S. Marshals Review and Blu-ray Features
6 Mar 1998
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Wesley Snipes’ character kicked ass in this, well done sir bravo
Very enjoyable badassery from Snipes. Downey was a good villian.
I thought they were all awesome. I thought this was really good too.
SPECTACULAR PLANE CRASH SCENE….
Where did the Chinese secrets come *from*?
At the cemetery, Sheridan confronts agent Barrows as he is removing the documents from the secret compartment. These documents were placed there by the local “kite” (presumably Sheridan’s replacement as bagman). The bagman received these documents from Chen, the Chinese agent, at the intersection in New York.
If the documents were supposedly of secret defense procedures by the U.S., shouldn’t they have been transferred TO Chen at the intersection in New York?
What happened to him? Near the end, I saw him at the office where the all the marshals and Royce were. Chen wasn’t in cuffs. Did the NOT charge him or what?
In movie land…
Tow truck drivers are irresistible to French Super Models.
I think the one thing that bugged me most about this movie is the treatment of Wesley Snipes’ character.
Even if he was completely innocent and the victim of a set up… NO WAY the justice system would just “let him go” at the end.
After all, he SHOT A U.S. MARSHAL in the swamp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Look at all of the crimes he committed during the course of the chase. Assaulting police officers (like shooting Gerard and fighting with Royce in the nursing home)… kidnapping the trucker and his wife… smashing into a police officer’s cruiser with an 18-wheeler.
It goes on and on and on… yet in the end after discovering the truth, they all forgive him for everything?
Lots of people never get charged with lots of crimes for lots of reasons. That’s my best excuse. It’s not like they all have a copy of this movie to work with, reality requires investigators, prosecutors, time, money. If anyone gets the attitude that it’s not worth prosecuting, it can disappear. Also, he was a deep level federal employee that was screwed over by other federal employees. Don’t you think his old bosses would have done whatever they could to prevent his prosecution?
Why didn’t Royce just shoot Sheridan?
And then shoot Newman? Would’ve made more sense on his part.
Well, Newman walked in on Royce just about when he was going to execute Sheridan. If he had shot Sheridan, it might’ve given Newman time to get off a shot on Royce.
Plus, he’d be screwed if they found out that the same gun shot both people. You have to THINK…
Exactly: ballistics would have easily ascertained from powder burns that Sheridan wasn’t killed in self defence but coldly executed. Newman, who was with Girard’s team and under orders to apprehend Sheridan, walked in on Royce, who was under orders to eliminate the threat holding the gun at point-blank range to his head. Sheridan had sensitive info that Royce and SS didn’t want him going free with. Newman was unaware of this. So priorities for Royce changed at that moment when Newman then became the threat when he found out the SS’s real prerogative with Sheridan.
Not to mention that, by his own admission, Royce volunteered to be on Gerard’s team. When he is first introduced to the gang he claims that the two dead DSS agents were his friends, but once you realise that he set the whole thing up and needed everyone dead you can see how he was scheming to gain Gerard’s trust from the very beginning.
Exactly, he could’ve shot both and just said that Sheridan took his gun, and he re-took it like he did in the swamp. It would’ve been believeable
What exactly is the significance of Royce’s gun?
At the end of the film, after the marshals have captured Sheridan and he is in police custody in the hospital, Gerard realizes that DSS Agent John Royce (Robert Downey Jr.) has been a double agent the whole time due to the serial number being scratched off Sheridan’s gun. However, exactly how Gerard comes to this conclusion is a little complex, and is explained very briefly in the film.
When Gerard first meets Royce at the plane crash scene, he asks him if he carries a weapon. Royce says he does, and Gerard asks to see it. Royce produces a Taurus PT945, to which Gerard responds, “Get yourself a Glock and lose that nickel plated sissy pistol.”
The gun is next seen in the standoff in the swamp. Using a Ruger SP-101, Sheridan surprises Royce and takes him hostage, also taking possession of Royce’s Taurus, which he uses to shoot Gerard. Royce then manages to retake his Taurus whilst Sheridan escapes.
The gun is next seen in the nursing home, where Royce is about to use it to kill Sheridan, before being interrupted by Newman, who catches him holding the gun to Sheridan’s head. Royce shoots and kills Newman with the Taurus. After Sheridan is caught, Royce gives Gerard the gun as a piece of evidence, telling him that the gun belonged to Sheridan.
Then, later, when Gerard and Royce are sitting outside the hospital room, Gerard is examining the Taurus (which Royce again refers to as “the gun that shot Newman“) when he notices that the serial number has been filed off. He remembers Royce showing him his Taurus from their first meeting in Kentucky; obviously Gerard has now realized that the gun which shot Newman is in fact Royce’s gun. Sheridan only ever had a Taurus during the brief encounter in the swamp. When Gerard interrupts Royce about to kill Sheridan, Gerard asks him “Do you want to use your old gun?” indicating the Taurus in the evidence bag. Royce says that the gun isn’t his, it’s Sheridan’s, to which Gerard responds, “No, it’s yours. You just filed off the serial number. It’s the gun he took away from you in the swamp. The gun he shot me with, the one which you’ve been carrying since that day. What do you want to bet that bullets pulled out of my vest match the ones that killed Newman?”
There were never two Taurus guns in play – there was only ever one: Royce’s. In an attempt to ensure no one would realize that the gun used to shoot Newman was his gun, Royce filed off the serial number and presented it as evidence, however it is this very precaution which ultimately causes his failure, as it is when Gerard sees the filed off number that he realizes there was only ever one Taurus.
Some fans have speculated that perhaps Gerard didn’t realize Royce got his gun back in the swamp, thinking that he only retook possession of it in the nursing home. However, this cannot be so, as if it were, Royce would not need to file off the serial number, as everyone would know that it was his gun that was used to shoot Newman, as Sheridan had apparently taken it from him.
The treason plot is confusing. Exactly what happens?
The conspiracy which Sheridan is attempting to unravel concerns the selling of state secrets to the Chinese (represented by Xian Chen). The two men behind the conspiracy are Frank Burrows (Rick Snyder) and John Royce. When delivering the documents to Chen, Royce and Burrows use Sheridan as their bag man, although he is unaware what he is delivering and where his orders are coming from. Barrows’ superior however, Bertram Lamb (Patrick Malahide), is aware of the fact that someone on the inside is involved, so he sends two agents to intercept the sale. These two agents are killed by Sheridan, who flees the city, changing his name and getting a job as a tow truck driver. After the death of the agents, Royce and Barrows decide to frame Sheridan for the whole thing. They plant his fingerprints at the murder scene (despite the fact that he was wearing gloves for the entire time), and once he is in police custody, they (or perhaps their Chinese co-conspirators) pay off an airport worker to give the gun to an assassin on the plane. When Sheridan escapes however, Royce is assigned by Barrows to Gerard’s team, presumably to ensure that Sheridan never gets the opportunity to talk, which is why he tries to kill him several times throughout the film
RT/Meta Critic Review
a great action thriller(Thomas Bowler /RT)
U.S. Marshals was shot by Andrzej Bartkowiak, who became a favorite for action pictures after his work on Speed (1994). Warner’s 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray vividly converys Bartkowiak’s trademark style, with its rich but understated colors and almost tactile textures. Detail is well-rendered throughout; you can see every crease and crag in Tommy Lee Jones’s face, which can go from stern to mock-playful in an instant. During the elaborate stunt and model sequences (the film was made just before CGI had largely supplanted realism in action films), the degree of visible detail adds dramatically to their impact. The same is true for the tense, extended sequence in the Tennessee swamp, where all the leaves, aquatic vegetation, mud and muck are plainly visible and make the characters’ discomfort feel quite real.
Blacks are deep and solid, which is essential to such scenes as the aftermath of the plane crash. Colors are rich without being oversaturated. There was no indication of artificial sharpening, high frequency filtering or compression artifacts, and the only flaw I spotted was an occasional minor instance of aliasing on very fine cross-hatch patterns. (I’m particularly sensitive to this kind of flaw; others may not even notice it.) The film itself may not be anyone’s idea of eye candy, but the transfer from Warner is top notch.
From the moment the snowy surveillance footage flashes on the screen at the beginning, you know that the soundtrack of U.S. Marshals won’t be ordinary. The events on the tape are pumped up and echo through the surrounds in a manner that no surveillance system ever managed. All of the major action sequences fully engage the rear speakers and the sub, and they do so at full volume, driven by the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. Mark “Warren’s” tow truck crash is sickeningly bone-crunching. The decompression and crash landing of the prison plane are filled with shocking sounds that no air travel passenger ever wants to hear (and, as catastrophes keep piling on top of each other, the sound gets more frightening). The cemetery shooting is a symphony of mayhem, as bullets whiz by and hit various objects and people. Scenes in downtown New York (many of them shot in Chicago) also contribute to the sonic experience, with the ever-present traffic noise, which is a running joke, since Gerard’s guys keep getting stuck in traffic.
Dialogue is almost always clear, except when it’s getting drowned out by something else. The score by the late Jerry Goldsmith does a great job of latching onto elements from James Newton Howard’s score for The Fugitive and developing them into something that is distinctive for this film, while remaining sonically connected to the one that inspired it.
The extras have been ported over from the 1998 Warner DVD. Omitted are three TV spots, a trailer for The Fugitive and a behind-the-scenes essay.
- Commentary by Director Stuart Baird: Baird’s commentary is dry, sparse and contains lengthy pauses (and when I say “lengthy”, I mean as much as half an hour). He sometimes provides interesting information (e.g., how to simulate the Wall Street area in downtown Chicago), but more often than not he states the obvious (e.g., Tommy Lee Jones is a powerful screen presence—really?).
- Anatomy of the Plane Crash (SD; 1.78:1, enhanced; 12:44): A step-by-step breakdown of how the crash sequence was achieved, presented in multiple short featurettes with a “play all” function.
- The Crash: A Five-Act Play
- Model Airplanes
- Exterior Sets
- Interior Sets
- Landing Locations
- Escape Under Water
- Crash Research
- Miniature Road
- Crash for Crash: “U.S. Marshals” vs. “The Fugitive”
- Justice Under the Star (SD; 1.33:1; 18:27): A history of the U.S. Marshal’s Service, both in reality and in the movies. It’s followed by trailers for Cahill U.S. Marshal and the Lawrence Kasdan film of Wyatt Earp.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD; 1.78:1, enhanced; 2:29)