Log Line

When a Chicago surgeon unjustly convicted of murdering his wife escapes en route to prison, he returns to Chicago and attempts to find the true killer in order to clear his own name.


Medium: Film

Writer(s): Jeb Stuart, David Twohy

Director(s): Andrew Davis

Production Co.(s): Warner Bros. Pictures

In The Fugitive, Chicago surgeon Dr. Richard Kimble is unjustly convicted of murdering his wife and is sentenced to death by lethal injection. On the way to the penitentiary in the prison bus, his fellow convicts mount a violent escape attempt, which results in his accidental freedom. After fleeing the scene and avoiding recapture, he returns to Chicago to discover and expose the truth behind his wife's murder so that he can clear his name and bring the true perpetrator to justice. To do so, he must evade capture by a deputy U.S. marshal while performing his own private investigation into the crime.

Richard's quest to clear his name is driven by a regain intent wherein the condition of value that has been lost, taken away, or destroyed is his reputation as a man who loved (and did not murder) his wife and can be trusted in civil society. When he finds himself confronted by the deputy marshal shortly after his escape, he invokes his innocence to justify maintaining his freedom... and is promptly informed that the invocation is insufficient to its purpose. If he hopes to restore his reputation of innocence, he will need to escape yet again and pursue the restoration on his own.

If Richard's concern were to keep his accidentally granted freedom, he would attempt to flee the U.S. or to change (and keep secret) his identity and live undercover somewhere far away from Illinois. Instead, he returns to Chicago (a regain action) to expose the truth of the crime and, thereby, restore himself to human society.

Because human beings are a social species, the opinion of the collective tends to carry significant weight in how we feel about ourselves and how we are viewed and treated by society. Consequently, it is not difficult to identify with a character who is unjustly accused of a crime, especially murder, and to sympathize with his effort to clear his name and make publicly known that he is not the killer. Richard's attempted endeavor is, therefore, one that the storytellers appear to consider advisable.

And because the issue at the heart of The Fugitive may be said to involve "striving to restore one's reputation of innocence," the proposition for The Fugitive may be stated:

  • One should attempt to regain his reputation of innocence when unjustly convicted of a sin against society, because success in the attempt will restore to him the trust of public society and result in the pubic knowledge of the truth.

In the end, Richard succeeds in his attempt to identify and expose those who are responsible for the murder of his wife and to thereby clear his name. We-the-audience are pleased that he does so; therefore The Fugitive stands as a fine example of a well-told succeed/pleased story.

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