U.S. Marshals (film)

U.S. Marshals

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stuart Baird
Produced by Anne Kopelson
Arnold Kopelson
Written by Roy Huggins
John Pogue
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Edited by Terry Rawlings
Kopelson Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • March 6, 1998 (1998-03-06) (United States)
Running time
131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $102.4 million[1]

U.S. Marshals is a 1998 American action crime thriller film directed by Stuart Baird. The storyline was conceived from a screenplay written by Roy Huggins and John Pogue. The film is a sequel to the 1993 motion picture The Fugitive, which in turn was based on the 1960s television series of the same name, created by Huggins. The story does not involve the character of Dr. Richard Kimble, portrayed by Harrison Ford in the initial film. Instead, the plot centers on United States Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard, once again played by Tommy Lee Jones, as he and his team pursue another fugitive, Mark Warren, played by Wesley Snipes, who attempts to elude government officials following an international conspiracy scandal. The cast features Robert Downey, Jr., Joe Pantoliano, Daniel Roebuck, Tom Wood, and LaTanya Richardson, several of whom portrayed Deputy Marshals in the previous film.

The film was a co-production between the motion picture studios of Warner Bros. and Kopelson Entertainment. Theatrically, it was commercially distributed by Warner Bros. and by the Warner Home Video division for home media markets. On March 10, 1998, the original motion picture soundtrack was released by the Varèse Sarabande music label. The soundtrack was composed and orchestrated by musician Jerry Goldsmith.

U.S. Marshals premiered in theaters in the United States on March 6, 1998, grossing $57 million in its domestic run. The film took in an additional $45 million through international release for a worldwide total of $102 million. The film was generally met with mixed critical reviews. The film was released on home video on July 21, 1998.


Two Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents are killed while trying to intercept a briefcase exchange taking place in a United Nations parking garage. The murders are caught on a security camera, but the criminal escapes with top secret information.

Months later, tow truck driver Mark Warren is arrested for an illegal weapons possession charge following a vehicular collision in Chicago. Through a fingerprint check, the police determine that he is actually federal fugitive Mark Roberts, wanted for a homicide. Roberts boards a prisoner transport aircraft back to New York, sharing the flight with Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), who is escorting prisoners unrelated to Roberts' case.

Roberts thwarts an assassination attempt by a Chinese prisoner with an improvised firearm, but the bullet pierces a window and depressurizes the cabin, forcing an emergency landing which leads to a crash in Southern Illinois. Gerard discovers Roberts has fled the crash site. DSS Special Agent John Royce is assigned to join Gerard's team to hunt Roberts.

Roberts flees to New York City. There, he secures money, weapons and fake identification. Roberts also begins conducting surveillance on a Chinese diplomat named Xiang Chen. In Chicago, Gerard and the Marshals pursue several leads, including Roberts' girlfriend Marie Bineaux, as well as the airplane mechanic who hid the zip gun, whom the Marshals find murdered by Chen.

Gerard and his colleagues watch the surveillance footage of the murders in the parking garage and realize that Roberts acted in self-defense and was wearing gloves; thus he could not have been identified by fingerprints at the scene as was earlier claimed. Confronted with the evidence, DSS Director Bertram Lamb informs Gerard that Mark Roberts is in fact Mark Sheridan, a trained operative and a veteran Force Recon Marine, that went rogue during an investigation to find a mole within the U.S. State Department that had been selling covert secrets to China. Chen was the contact delivering the money to Sheridan for the information and when DSS agents tried to apprehend him, Sheridan killed them in resistance and fled the scene.

Eventually, Gerard and his team catch up with Sheridan in Queens Hill Cemetery where he meets with, and threatens to expose, DSS Special Agent Frank Barrows as one of the conspirators who framed him. Chen tries to assassinate Sheridan as he leaves the cemetery, but inadvertently kills Barrows instead. Sheridan flees to a retirement home followed by Gerard, Royce and Deputy Marshal Noah Newman. Meanwhile, Chen is caught and detained by Deputy Marshals Savannah Cooper and Bob Biggs.

At the senior care facility, Newman overhears a physical struggle and walks into a room where he witnesses Royce holding Sheridan at gunpoint. Royce suddenly shoots Newman with his gun and later lies to his associates, claiming Sheridan shot Newman. Sheridan escapes by jumping from the building onto the roof of a passing train. Newman dies of his gunshot wound.

After retrieving fingerprints from an abandoned vehicle at a marine loading dock, Gerard tracks down Sheridan on a freighter bound for Canada. During a scuffle between Sheridan and Gerard aboard the vessel, Royce shoots Sheridan, injuring him. Sheridan is later taken into custody. Gerard begins to suspect Royce may be the mole when he notices the firearm that shot Newman had its serial number filed off in an attempt to hide it was actually Royce's own gun earlier.

Left alone to guard Sheridan's hospital room, Royce wakes Sheridan up to murder him just as Gerard steps in and kills Royce first. After leaving the hospital, Sheridan's charges are dropped as he is exonerated and released from custody.


Wesley Snipes, who portrayed Mark Sheridan.



Filming locations for the film included, Metropolis, Illinois; Bay City, Illinois; Shawneetown, Illinois; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; Benton, Kentucky; and at Reelfoot Lake, in Lake County, Tennessee.[2]

U.S. Marshals: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by Jerry Goldsmith
Released March 10, 1998
Length 29:44
Label Varèse Sarabande

Music and soundtrack

The original motion picture soundtrack for U.S. Marshals was released by the Varèse Sarabande music label on March 10, 1998.[3] The score for the film was orchestrated by Jerry Goldsmith and mixed by Bruce Botnick. Kenneth Hall edited the film's music.[4]


A novelization of the film, U.S. Marshals: A Novel, written by Max Allan Collins, was released on March 1, 1998.[5]


Home media

Following its cinematic release, the Region 1 Code widescreen edition of the film was released on DVD in the U.S. on July 21, 1998. Special features for the DVD include; interactive behind-the-scenes documentary - Anatomy of the Plane Crash; historical documentary - Justice Under the Star; feature-length commentary by director Stuart Baird; interactive menus; production notes; two theatrical trailers; three TV spots; and scene access.[6] Additionally, a Special Edition repackaged DVD was also released on November 3, 2009. Special features include; a closed caption option; interactive behind-the-scenes documentary - Anatomy of the Plane Crash; historical documentary - Justice Under the Star; feature length commentary by director Stuart Baird; two theatrical trailers; and three TV spots.[7]

In supplemental fashion, a VHS format version of the film was released on February 2, 1999.[8] A restored widescreen hi-definition Blu-ray Disc version of the film was released on June 5, 2012. Special features include; two documentaries - Anatomy of the plane crash and Justice under the star; commentary by director Stuart Baird; and the theatrical trailer.[9] An additional viewing option for the film in the media format of Video on demand has been made available as well.[10]


Critical response

Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received mixed reviews.[11] Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 27% based on reviews from 33 critics, with an average score of 5 out of 10.[12] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, U.S. Marshals was given a score of 47 based on 20 reviews.[11]

The result is unconvincing and disorganized. Yes, there are some spectacular stunts and slick special effects sequences. Yes, Jones is right on the money, and Snipes makes a sympathetic fugitive. But it's the story that has to pull this train, and its derailment is about as definitive as the train crash in the earlier film.

—Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times[13]

Barbara Shulgasser, writing in The San Francisco Examiner, commented in positive sentiment about the acting, saying, "The film's pacing is unimpeachable and good performances are delivered by Jones, Snipes, Irene Jacob as Sheridan's loyal girlfriend and, for brief moments, Kate Nelligan as Gerard's tough but lovable boss."[14] Left impressed, Desson Howe in The Washington Post noted how "Every story beat is expertly planned and executed." Howe also praised director Baird, exclaiming how he "runs the show with a smart eye and a metronome ticking somewhere in his mind."[15] In a mixed to negative review, Russell Smith of The Austin Chronicle bluntly deduced that, "Unlike Kimble, whose innocence and decency are known from the beginning in The Fugitive, Sheridan is a total cipher to both Gerard and the audience until deep into this two-hours-plus film. Ergo, we can't be expected to give a rat's ass what happens to him — and don't."[16] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly opined that U.S. Marshals was "Lean, tense, and satisfyingly tricky."[17]

The film however, was not without its detractors. Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert, giving the film two and a half stars out of four, observed, "I didn't expect U.S. Marshals to be the equal of The Fugitive, and it isn't. But I hoped it would approach the taut tension of the 1993 film, and it doesn't. It has extra scenes, needless characters, an aimless plot and a solution that the hero seems to keep learning and then forgetting."[13] In a primarily negative review, Mick LaSalle, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, called the film "a bad idea to begin with." He noted his confusion with the plot, remarking, "the movie tells us from the beginning that the fugitive is not quite innocent. He killed two fellow agents in self-defense. All this does is muddy the moral waters, making us queasy about the one guy we like. At no point is there ever a compelling reason to keep watching."[18] Describing a mild negative opinion, James Berardinelli of ReelViews professed Marshal Gerard as exhibiting "only a token resemblance to the character who doggedly pursued Kimball in The Fugitive. As re-invented here, Gerard is a generic action hero; most of the quirks that made him interesting (and that earned Jones an Oscar) are absent. With a few minor re-writes, John McClane from the Die Hard movies could have been plugged into this role."[19]

Snipes is luckless in the part, which merely demands a lot of scowling, then moving aside to let the stunt double take over. (The movie's other big treat features that nameless individual, who leaps off a building and swings, as if on a bungee cord, to a nearby station roof, then races after the train pulling out and leaps to land upon its roof; that's fun, but it's no movie in itself.)

—Stephen Hunter, writing in The Washington Post[20]

Dissatisfied with the film's quality, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader said that it was "Not so much a sequel to The Fugitive as a lazy spin-off that imitates only what was boring and artificially frenetic about that earlier thriller; the little that kept it interesting—Tommy Lee Jones's Oscar-winning inflections, better-than-average direction—is nowhere in evidence."[21] Stephen Hunter, writing for The Washington Post, reasoned, "It turns out to be one of those lame double-agent things where everybody's working for everybody else, the security of Taiwan (Taiwan!) is at stake, and it never quite lurches into clarity or acquires any real emotional punch. I didn't think the end of The Fugitive was so great either: Who wants to watch doctors fistfight on a roof? But by the time it winds down, U.S. Marshals has all but destroyed itself."[20] Film critic Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide was not consumed with the nature of the subject matter, declaring, "To every hit there is a season, and a time for every sequel under heaven — no matter what narrative contortions it takes." She later surmised, "The minute Gerard mocks Royce's 'nickel-plated sissy pistol,' it's clear they're headed for a cathartic showdown, and anyone who can't see which member of Gerard's merry band might as well be wearing a 'Dead Meat Walking' T-shirt really shouldn't be allowed to operate complicated machinery."[22]

Box office

U.S. Marshals premiered in cinemas on March 6, 1998 in wide release throughout the United States.[1] During that weekend, the film opened in 2nd place, grossing $16,863,988 at 2,817 locations.[1] The film Titanic was in 1st place during that weekend, with $17,605,849 in revenue.[23] The film's revenue dropped by 32% in its second week of release, earning $11,355,259. For that particular weekend, the film fell to 3rd place with the same theater count. The continuing success of Titanic remained unchallenged in 1st place with $17,578,815 in box office business.[24] During its final week in release, U.S. Marshals was in 60th place, grossing a marginal $16,828 in revenue.[25][26] U.S. Marshals went on to top out domestically at $57,167,405 in total ticket sales through its theatrical run.[1] For 1998 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 36.[27]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "U.S. Marshals (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  2. "U.S. Marshals Production Details". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  3. "U.S. Marshals: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  4. "U.S. Marshals: Cast & Crew". MSN Movies. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  5. Collins, Max (1998). U.S. Marshals: A Novel. Berkley Boulevard Books. ISBN 978-0-425-16438-9.
  6. "U.S. Marshals (1998) - DVD Widescreen". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  7. "U.S. Marshals DVD". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  8. "U.S. Marshals [VHS] (1998)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  9. "U.S. Marshals Blu-Ray". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  10. "U.S. Marshals VOD Format". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  11. 1 2 "U.S. Marshals". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  12. "U.S. Marshals (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  13. 1 2 Ebert, Roger (6 March 1998). "U.S. Marshals". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  14. Shulgasser, Barbara (6 March 1998). Entertaining action in "Marshals'. The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  15. Howe, Desson (6 March 1998). 'U.S. Marshals' Gets Its Man. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  16. Smith, Russell (6 March 1998). U.S. Marshals. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  17. Gleiberman, Owen (1998). U.S. Marshals. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  18. LaSalle, Mick (6 March 1998). 'Marshals' Way Off The Mark / 'Fugitive' formula fails Jones, Snipes. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  19. Berardinelli, James (6 March 1998). U.S. Marshals. ReelViews. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  20. 1 2 Hunter, Stephen (6 March 1998). 'U.S. Marshals' Runs Out of Steam. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  21. Rosenbaum, Jonathan (March 1998). U.S. Marshals. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  22. McDonagh, Maitland (March 1998). U.S. Marshals: Review. TV Guide. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  23. "March 6-8, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  24. "March 13-15, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  25. "U.S. Marshals". The Numbers. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  26. "July 24-26, 1998 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  27. "1998 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
Further reading
  • Collins, Max Allan (1998). U.S. Marshals: A Novel. Berkley Boulevard Books. ISBN 978-0-425-16438-9. 
  • Sorrento, Matthew (2012). The New American Crime Film. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-45920-9. 
  • Parish, James (2002). Hollywood Bad Boys : Loud, Fast, and Out of Control. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-071-38137-6. 
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