Warner Bros. released a restored presentation of the classic thriller The Fugitive (1993) starring Harrison Ford on November 21, 2023. The movie arrived on 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray in a single-disc combo with a code to redeem a Digital Copy. The physical media edition is another title celebrating the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studio this year.
What can we say about the movie itself except that it’s a classic from Director Andrew Davis with stellar performances from Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, and Joe Pantoliano. The restored movie recently had limited theatrical showings to an ecstatic crowd, celebrating 30 years since its premiere in 1993. Nominated for a total of 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, the Oscar was given to Jones’ performance as Best Supporting Actor.
How does “The Fugitive” look in 4k? Don’t judge the video quality by its opening aerial shot which looks like most older helicopter shots on film at night, not so good (the same footage is presented again at 1:05:00). Just wait a couple of minutes until the movie moves to a very high-quality image with a wide dynamic range in 10-bit HDR10 video using the BT.2020 color gamut.
The infamous train crash scene is rendered beautifully in this newly restored presentation. Black levels are like never seen before with details emerging that we never knew existed. The fire from the train explosion illuminates the surrounding area, allowing colors and variations of dark values to exist, even though this was film stock shot at night and certainly not optimal for emulsion exposure. Even the tunnel chase through the dam holds up very well with the 10-bit video.
“The guy did a Peter Pan right off this dam here.” – U.S. Marshal Gerard
The bitrates from this encoding of “The Fugitive” sort of jumped all over the place, sometimes hitting a low of 20Mbps but then jumping up to 107Mbps at other points. Nevertheless, the quality of the variable compression HEVC H.265 video never ceased to impress. The bitrates stayed between 50 and 80 Mbps and averaged around 67Mbps, which is typical for a well-encoded 4K video file.
As far as audio, the new remaster provides a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, expanding the film to more speaker channels and three-dimensional space than ever before. With that said, the movie still delivers a frontal approach to sound effects, but dialogue occasionally spreads into the side and rear channels. The thunder of an incoming storm at 18 minutes is heard subtly in the surrounding audio space. Low frequencies are activated in the explosion scenes and lower notes of the music composition by James Newton Howard.
The original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has been left on the disc for legacy value, and was already an excellent soundtrack that had been nominated for an Academy Award for both Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.
There is nothing new in the bonus material, but it’s nice to have right on the 4k Blu-ray rather than have to insert a second disc. Extras include introduction by Director Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford, commentaries by Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase, documentary: Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck, documentary: On the Run with The Fugitive, and the theatrical trailer.
Should you add “The Fugitive” 4k Blu-ray to your home theater collection? Absolutely! The 4k restoration revitalizes the film’s presentation, making it look as good as movies 10 years younger. Scores: Movie (5/5), Video (4/5), Audio (4/5), Bonus Features (3/5)