The Fugitive review – an asinine contemporary remake all the worse for being on Quibi

August 4, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
TV Reviews
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A reboot of The Fugitive probably wouldn’t have been very good in any circumstances, but on Quibi it’s a laughable mess.

This review of The Fugitive (Quibi) is spoiler-free.

Remaking The Fugitive again was always going to be a big ask. The beloved 1993 do-over with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was a rip-roaring success and a contemporization of the ‘60s series; it garnered a lot of goodwill that was squandered a bit on a turn-of-the-century version with Tim Daly. It’s only fitting that an ill-fated 2020 revival would air on Quibi, a new-ish platform with a drastically dwindling user-base and a format that doesn’t lend itself well to… anything, really. The fact of the matter is that this version of The Fugitive wouldn’t have made a good feature-film on any platform; chopped up into 14 daily ten-ish-minute episodes, it’s a laughable mess.

Some noteworthy casting doesn’t improve The Fugitive, but rather serves to highlight its distressing similarities to other, better shows – and one in particular. Boyd Holbrook plays the ridiculously-named Michelangelo Ferro, a formerly wealthy financier who was imprisoned for three years for a high-profile vehicular homicide that he claims not to have committed. Nevertheless, he took a plea deal, which he explains was to avoid bankrupting his family, which includes wife Allison (Natalie Martinez) and 10-year-old daughter Pearl (Keilani Arellane). The hook of this new series is that, shortly after meeting his parole officer Kevin Lawson (Malcolm Goodwin) on a subway train, Ferro exits – and the locomotive explodes.

Enter, then, Kiefer Sutherland as Captain Clayton Bryce, who is 24’s Jack Bauer in all but name and is in charge of an LAPD counterterrorism unit that is 24’s CTU in all but name. He lost his wife in the 9/11 attacks so has a deep personal anti-terrorism streak. Naturally, Bryce fancies Ferro for the crime, and thus we have a show, one given a twist of topicality by the presence of Tiya Sircar as a fast-fingered reporter for a website who thinks basic fact-checking is secondary to disseminating “news” on social media, much to the annoyance of her more traditional editor Jerry Conwell (Glenn Howerton).

That paragraph is basically The Fugitive in microcosm, though given Quibi’s distribution method, The Fugitive is basically The Fugitive in microcosm. But the show’s as much a reboot of 24 as anything else –  it’s even directed by Stephen Hopkins, who worked on the first season – with some feints in the general direction of timely fake-news reporting and traffic-driven clickbait-reliant outlets who will throw innocent people to the wolves as long as doing so earns some advertising revenue. Ferro is a victim of this mentality, cast against Bryce as a kind of avatar of trigger-happy lawmen enslaved to their own biases. It’s a surface-level depiction of ethical compromise that thinks it’s profound, but thanks to being hampered by the format, it’s in such a rush to concoct one nutty set-piece after another than it mostly consigns itself to being ridiculous.

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