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The Fugitive (1993) - Plot Summary Poster

(1993)

Plot

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Summaries

  • Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt led by a seasoned U.S. Marshal.

  • A well respected Chicago surgeon Dr. Richard Kimble has found out that his wife, Helen, has been murdered ferociously in her own home. The police found Kimble and accused him of the murder. Then, Kimble (without Justifiable Reason) was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. However, on the way to prison, Kimble's transport crashed. Kimble escapes and is now on the run. Deputy Samuel Gerard from Chicago takes charge of the chase of Kimble. Meanwhile, Kimble takes up his own investigation to find who really killed his wife, and to lure Gerard and his team into it as well.

  • Dr. Richard Kimble is a well-known surgeon based out of Chicago who returns home from work one night to find his wife Helen was murdered. The killer, a one-armed man, manages to escape before police arrive. With a lack of evidence pointing to the one-armed man, Kimble is arrested and charged with murder. On his way to prison, the bus he is in crashes, giving him the opportunity to escape. Kimble decides to find out who the real killer was and why his wife was murdered. Meanwhile, a US Marshal named Samuel Gerard and his team are tasked with finding Kimble and arresting him. However, the further he is to catching Kimble, the more Gerard is convinced he is innocent.

    Sam
  • Wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, Richard Kimble escapes from the law in an attempt to find her killer and clear his name. Pursuing him is a team of U.S. marshals led by Deputy Samuel Gerard, a determined detective who will not rest until Richard is captured. As Richard leads the team through a series of intricate chases, he discovers the secrets behind his wife's death and struggles to expose the killer before it is too late.

  • Wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Dr. Richard Kimble escapes from a prison bus and tries to find out why she was killed and who the murderer really was. He is relentlessly pursued by Samuel Gerard, a U.S. Marshal, and is forced to keep out of contact from any friends or relatives. However, his determination and ingenuity soon produce results and he comes to the frightening realisation that he can trust no one.

  • Noted surgeon Richard Kimble is wrongfully accused, tried and convicted for the brutal murder of his wife. A failed escape attempt by other prisoners gives Kimble his opportunity to escape execution. The only option and purpose he has left is to discover who really murdered his wife and clear his name. On his trail is persistent US Marshal Samuel Gerard who slowly comes to believe that the original case might not be as clear cut as was first believed.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • The movie opens with flashes of the Chicago skyline and fight between an unidentified man and Helen Kimble (Sela Ward). In the struggle, Helen is killed when her assailant shoots her with the pistol they keep in their bedroom and then crushes part of her head with a heavy piece of decorative stone. The police turn up and find Helen dead on the floor. Forensics is hard at work in the room, documenting the murder scene. A man walks through a room and Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a prominent Chicago vascular surgeon, stands up with scratches on his neck and is escorted out the door. A reporter stands outside, telling the camera what's happened. Kimble climbs into the back of a police car.

    Richard is shown in an interview room with Detective Kelly (Ron Dean), and flashbacks show what he was doing just hours earlier. Kimble and his wife mingle with donors at a children's Research Aid Foundation fundraiser. Helen is surrounded by a group of men and Richard "rescues" her. They also exchange pleasantries with Richard's best friend and colleague Dr. Charles Nichols (Jerome Krabbe), who thanks Richard for letting him temporarily borrow his car. While driving home afterwards, Richard gets a call asking him to come into work for an emergency surgery operation, much to Helen's disappointment. Nonetheless, she says she'll wait up for him. Her voice echoes in the background as he sits in the interview room, another policeman walking into the room.

    The detectives interview Richard and ask him if anything unusual happened, and about the fight about the guy with one arm, as well as who has keys to his house. They ask if he'd seen any suspicious people following him or if he'd gotten any unusual phone calls in recent weeks or months. The detectives discuss the evidence in the observation room. Back in the interrogation room, the policemen ask Kimble about his wife's wealth and who the sole beneficiary of his wife's life insurance the policemen suspect Kimble: Helen was very wealthy and he'll come out well. Kimble insists he's innocent and the police keep interrogating him about the appearance of the one-armed thief. Their superior looks over the report and seeing that Kimble was the only witness and that his fingerprints were on the pistol used to shoot Helen, they decide to charge him with the murder. Kimble becomes more distraught and tells the detectives that he'd fought with Helen's killer and that the man had a mechanical arm. He yells for them to find him.

    Nonetheless, Kimble is arrested and put on trial. He is next shown in court, listening to the opposition's opening statement, while flashing back to the scene of the crime. Detective Kelly is in on the stand, and Kimble flashes back to when he entered the house after work. More questioning of another witness. Helen gasps for air as she manages to call 911. The opposing lawyer asks to play Helen's 911 emergency call, previously identified by the police dispatcher. Helen says that there's someone still in her house, trying to kill her. While this is going on, Kimble comes up the stairs and the killer hangs up the call. Kimble remembers struggling with the man & tearing away one of his sleeves, revealing a prosthetic arm. Despite his best efforts, Kimble is found guilty and remanded to Illinois State Penitentiary, where he'll wait to be put to death.

    Kimble is one of several convicts that are then chained up and put on a bus that will transport them to prison. When they're almost at the prison, one of the other convicts decides to stage a jailbreak by faking a seizure, foaming at the mouth. One of the officers approaches the man and is shanked by the convict with a shiv made by a sharpened tooth brush. The warden shoots two prisoners with a shotgun. When another prisoner tries to overpower him, an errant blast kills the driver, and the bus goes off the road at a bridge and rolls down the hill, landing on a railroad track. The warden demands that Kimble help the injured guard. Kimble demands to be released from his shackles in return. The warden throws him the keys and Kimble frees his wrists. Another convict, Copeland, grabs the keys and unlocks his own shackles and runs out on Kimble when the doctor asks him for help getting the injured out. It is then that Kimble sees the lights and hears a freight train approaching the wreck at speed. He manages to get the remaining survivors off the bus before the train plows into it at speed and derails. Copeland rescues and frees him and tells Kimble not to follow him. Kimble is wounded and needs medical attention, following the river bank.

    The county police and the Illinois State Police converge on the scene to begin investigating. They are later joined by a team of US Marshals, comprised of Deputy US Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) and his associates Cosmo Renfro (Joe Pantoliano), Bobby Biggs (Daniel Roebuck), Noah Newman (Tom Wood), and Erin Poole (L. Scott Caldwell). The local police, headed by Sheriff Rawlins, seem to have things under control, and don't see any reason to cede jurisdiction to Gerard until Biggs discovers a set of leg irons that had been used by Kimble and don't have anyone attached to them. With Kimble unaccounted for, Gerard takes over the scene and orders a massive manhunt and dragnet with a 15 mile radius from the crash scene, encompassing every residence, business and hospital in the area.

    By the next morning, Kimble comes to a clearing under a bridge and steals a workman's coveralls, and finds his way to a hospital. Meanwhile, at the crash scene, Gerard's marshals have found a blood trail that might belong to Kimble, and Gerard orders that Kimble's mugshot be faxed to every local hospital in case he seeks treatment. There's a moment of chaos as the moment is interrupted when rescue workers extricate the guard who was shanked at the start of the jailbreak, and who has been trapped under the wreckage all night.

    Kimble gets to the hospital, and steals medical supplies to stitch his own wound. A state trooper is sent to the hospital and alerts the medical staff of Kimble's identity while Kimble stitches his wound up and steals an elderly patient's clothes. He has to hide in the closet as a nurse comes by on her rounds to tend to the patient. Once the nurse leaves, Kimble shaves his beard and combs his hair, and steals the patient's breakfast. He passes the same state trooper in the hallway, who quizzes Kimble about the escaped prisoner's whereabouts. Kimble is able to shrug off any "resemblance" he has to the escaped man the trooper describes by saying "Every time I look in the mirror, pal, except for the beard of course."

    As Kimble is leaving the hospital, an ambulance arrives with the wounded guard from the train wreck. The guard, while half-conscious, recognizes Kimble as he helps the paramedics unload the guard from the ambulance. Once the paramedics are gone, Kimble steals the ambulance. It isn't long before this information makes it back to Gerard, and the Marshals set off in pursuit of Kimble.

    Kimble abandons the ambulance at a dam, and escapes into a nearby drainage grating. In the tunnels, Sam separates himself from his team and slips while climbing down another tunnel. He loses his pistol which Kimble finds. While pointing the pistol at Sam, Kimble tells him he didn't kill his wife. Sam's curt response is "I don't care!" Kimble runs off while Sam pulls a spare pistol and continues after him. At a high drainage port, Kimble is trapped by Sam who orders him to drop the pistol and surrender. Kimble jumps, falling hundreds of feet into the river below. Sam is found by his team who immediately believe Kimble was killed in the fall. Sam refuses to believe it & tells them they have to find the body.

    Cosmo asks if they can go home, but Gerard is so hell-bent on catching Kimble that he refuses to believe Kimble is dead in the absence of a body. He orders dive teams dispatched to search the river for him, ignoring the protests of another trooper who says the odds of him surviving the fall are unlikely. The police search the woods with hounds, but come up with nothing.

    Kimble runs through the woods, but stops out of breath and collapses. He hides under some leaves and dreams about Helen making love to him, his trying to save her life, as well as his lawyer and the killer. He wakes up some hours later, and after wandering aimlessly for some time, runs into a good Samaritan who sees him walking along the side of a road and picks him up.

    Back in Chicago, Gerard and his team get a tip that they've got "him" shacked up with a woman in Whiting, Indiana who "left work tonight and took him home". The next morning, they head out to Whiting. Gerard and Newman pretend to be drunk passers-by while Biggs and Henry pose as garbage truck drivers, Poole poses as a homeless woman, and Cosmo poses as a plumber. As they prepare to break down the door, they put on patches identifying them as US Marshals and raid the house, which as it turns out is not where Kimble is hiding, but rather Copeland, the other survivor from the train wreck. As the Marshals sweep the house, Newman is taken hostage by Copeland. Gerard gets the drop on Copeland and shoots him, but in such close quarters ends up temporarily deafening Newman.

    Kimble makes it back to Chicago, where he tries to get in touch with his lawyer. His lawyer asks Kimble of his whereabouts, telling him that he cant harbor a criminal and he should turn himself in. Kimble lies and tells Walter that he's in St. Louis. The call is traced by the Marshals, who have a tap on Kimble's associates' phones, and despite Kimble's attempts at misdirection, they're still able to figure out he's back in Chicago when they recognize the sound of an 'L' train in the background and the sound of a bell on the Wells Street Bridge.

    In desperation, Kimble decides to reach out to Dr. Charles Nichols (Jeroen Krabbe) as he exits the North Bank Club and gets back into his car. Nichols gives some money to Kimble, but is forced to drive off when a cop orders him to keep moving.

    Gerard and his colleagues discuss why Kimble may have killed his wife, and pay a visit to the Chicago Police Department detectives who conducted the original investigation. Gerard is skeptical of the detectives' claims that Kimble killed his wife for the money, pointing out that he already was making a ton of money as one of the top surgeons in the city, but the detectives insist that Helen "was more rich".

    Gerard decides to have Kimble's friends brought in for questioning as a precaution. First up is Nichols, who openly admits to Kimble's visit that morning, but when asked as to where Kimble may be hiding, claims "If you want help, gentlemen, you've come to the wrong man; Richard is innocent. You'll never find him; he's too smart." Next up is Dr. Kathy Wahlund (Jane Lynch), who starts off by proclaiming her belief that Kimble is innocent and says that she'd help Kimble if he came to her, but that's not his style

    While this happens, Kimble rents a basement apartment from an old Polish woman. That night, he goes to the Cook County Hospital, and stealing the ID tags of a maintenance worker named Jose Ruiz Desmondo, finds his way to the prosthetics department. Kimble reads a medical report on a man who has half of his arm missing and starts doing research. He takes home a book called Atlas of Limb Prosthetics: Surgical, Prosthetic, and Rehabilitation Principles by the American Academy of Orthopedics.

    That night, Kimble has more nightmares of his wife's death, and dreams of the scene of the crime. Unlike other nightmares, he tries to focus more on what he remembers of the prosthetic limb, hoping to find clues to narrow down the man in question. Unfortunately for Kimble, it turns out that one of the neighbors upstairs is a drug dealer, and this only becomes clear to him when he's rousted from his nightmare by the sounds of the police arriving to arrest the dealer. Even worse, when they question him at the station, the dealer snitches on Kimble in hopes of gaining leniency, and this information is passed on to Gerard.

    Kimble returns to the hospital and uses his janitor disguise to break into the prosthetics department and access the database. Recalling what he remembers about the prosthetic, he's able to narrow down his suspects list to five names. Things get hectic as the hospital suddenly receives a major influx of patients from a bus crash, including several children. In the chaos, Kimble has to be deputized to help move patients to different operating rooms. He is assigned to a boy who is having breathing difficulties and examines his chart, which doesn't go unnoticed by Dr. Anne Eastman (Julianne Moore), the resident ER doctor. While on the staff elevator, Kimble corrects the patient's diagnosis on the forms, and takes him to a different ward than assigned so that he can undergo a life-saving operation.

    Kimble is quickly found out by Dr. Eastman, and is forced to flee when she confronts him. Gerard and his Marshals show up shortly thereafter, just as Kimble is leaving out a back door. Learning from Dr. Eastman that Kimble's last minute decision saved the patient's life, Cosmo expresses disbelief that Kimble would hang around a hospital where lots of cops are stationed. The conversation is interrupted when a man with half an arm squeezes past them, and makes his way to the prosthetics clinic. This gives Gerard an idea: Kimble is probably looking for the one-armed man using hospital records.

    Kimble and Gerard both begin working through lists of patients with prosthetic arms and criminal records. Kimble's search is a bit narrower since he's only got a few names, vs. Gerard's team who have 47 hits. Kimble's first name, Matthew Zelick, turns out to be a dead end as he is deceased. The second one, Clive Driscoll, seems more promising, as he's been arrested for armed robbery. He goes to the jail to find Clive Driscoll, at the same time Gerard goes there. Upon sitting down with Clive, Kimble realizes he's not the individual responsible for Helen's death and leaves.

    As Kimble leaves, he's recognized by a guard, and moments later, he's spotted by Gerard while escaping down another staircase. Gerard tries to give chase, but Kimble temporarily stalls him by tricking some police officers into restraining him. The Marshals attempt to give chase as Kimble flees into the St. Patrick's Day parade, but Kimble manages to escape.

    Gerard and the Chicago police detectives are forced to hold a press conference. Gerard has no affirmative answers for the reporters, while Detective Kelly's response to questions that allege Kimble is innocent, is that Kimble is guilty because he was convicted by the court of law.

    Kimble obtains some new clothes and continues his suspect search. His search leads him to a man named Frederick Sykes. Narrowly avoiding a police officer parked outside Sykes' building, Kimble breaks in to Sykes' apartment. Searching through his possessions, Kimble finds photographs of Sykes, and the prosthetic arm Sykes wears, and instantly recognizes Sykes as the real killer, and remembers damaging the arm when he threw Sykes down the stairs during the fight at his house. What's more alarming to Kimble is that in some of the pictures, Sykes is posing with Alec Lentz, the doctor that Nichols had introduced him to at the benefit.

    Kimble goes through Sykes's medical file and finds multiple forms from Devlin MacGregor Pharmaceuticals, who were sponsoring the benefit, as well as documents pertaining to a cruise in the Caribbean. He also remembers a discussion about the pharmaceutical company's drugs that he had during the surgery.

    Knowing he's got his man, Kimble makes a call to Gerard at the Marshal's office, and leaves the line off the hook so that the Marshals will trace the call and apartment. They raid the apartment and find Kimble's fingerprints, but no sign of Kimble. Sykes denies knowing Kimble when Gerard questions him about it, and provides an alibi for the night of the murder. Gerard and Cosmo quickly surmise that Sykes is lying about not knowing Kimble, and Gerard tasks Cosmo with identifying the man who's with Sykes in the photograph.

    Kimble gets in touch with Nichols about what he found, and his conclusion that his wife's death wasn't the result of a burglary gone bad, but a conspiracy by Devlin MacGregor and Dr. Lentz to kill him for raising questions about new drugs they were pushing. To Kimble's surprise, he learns from Nichols that Lentz is dead, having died in a car accident over the summer. Nonetheless, Kimble refuses to give up and gets in contact with some other colleagues of his.

    Gerard and his team question Nichols again, this time about Kimble and Sykes. Nichols accuses Gerard of getting pretty desperate. Curiously, he denies knowing Lentz when shown the picture of Lentz posing with Sykes. When they blow up the picture at their offices, they find a label on Lentz's shirt labeled Chicago Memorial Hospital, to which Devlin MacGregor Pharmacuticals is a successful benefactor.

    Kimble approaches an old hospital contact of his named Bones, who gets him a liver sample that originated from a patient on the RDU-90 drug study. He also gets another sample (the last one) from January 21st, and Kimble promises to get everything back to him, while putting it into an envelope. He takes the sample to Dr. Wahlund for analysis. She embraces him and agrees to analyze the samples with him through a microscope. They're not the same tissue, yet they came from the same, very healthy liver. Analyzing the reports, they also realize that Dr. Lentz died August 21st, and half of the samples that he approved were signed for the day of his death. Kimble realizes that someone else with access must have been manipulating them. Getting a pretty good idea who might have been responsible, Kimble leaves to "visit a friend".

    Sykes, meanwhile, gets a call from his employer, telling him to deal with Kimble. Since the police are sitting on his residence, he can't get away unnoticed, so he sets off a fire alarm to summon the fire department. The confusion caused by the fire department arriving distracts the cops and allows Sykes to slip out, unnoticed, carrying his gun.

    Newman and Biggs identify Lentz, and learn about his death. They visit Bones at Chicago Memorial Hospital to question him, at the same time that Sykes goes there. Bones denies having been in contact with Kimble, and while the questioning is going on, Sykes hides from them in the shadows of the lab.

    Gerard is getting a headache as Cosmo calls to note that Bones had no information on where Kimble was going, beyond supplying him tissue samples for a drug study. Newman adds, over the phone, that the release was approved by Dr. Nichols, who was Lentz's boss. Cosmo speculates that he was covering for Kimble, and Gerard orders the CPD to go there instantly, to sweep the place, while also sending men to apprehend Dr. Nichols.

    Sykes contacts Nichols from a payphone to report his failure at finding Kimble at the hospital, but drops the call when he spots Kimble walking nearby.

    Gerard pins the picture of Sykes and Lentz to a board while Cosmo reads off an article about Lentz and his accident. It is then that Gerard gets a lead when one of his colleagues cross-checks Sykes' telephone records. He's made no calls to Kimble. But upon cross-checking Kimble's phone records, it turns out that someone called Sykes at 7:30pm on the night of Helen's murder from Kimble's car phone, at a time when Kimble was still at the gala with Helen. Gerard double-checks Kimbles arrest records and cross-checks the call. He's then notified by Poole that Sykes has managed to evade police and is likely looking for Kimble.

    Kimble boards the 'L' to head to a presentation that Nichols is presiding over at a nearby hotel. As he nears his destination, Sykes enters from an adjoining car and draws his gun on him. His attempt to eliminate Kimble is interrupted when a transit cop appears and tries to draw on Kimble. Sykes kills the cop, at which point Kimble pulls the emergency brake and fights Sykes, overpowering him and knocking him out. He handcuffs Sykes to one of the handrailings in the car and takes his gun, evading police as they arrive in response to an "officer down" call.

    Kimble goes to the Hilton Tower Mall where Nichols is giving a presentation. Kimble interrupts Nichols' speech, accusing him of falsifying medical research and orchestrating the murder of Kimble's wife. They fight on the hotel roof before falling through a skylight into a laundry room. Having arrived on the scene, Gerard calls out to Kimble that he knows about Nichols' conspiracy. Nichols knocks out Cosmo with an I-beam, takes his gun, and attempts to shoot Gerard. Kimble attacks Nichols from behind with a pipe, knocking him unconscious and saving Gerard's life. Kimble surrenders to Gerard, who escorts him out of the hotel. Sykes and Nichols are arrested. Kimble is driven from the crime scene by Gerard, who now knows he is innocent.

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