American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
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.
The hero is Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, played by Tommy Lee Jones in a reprise of his co-starring role in "The Fugitive." The fact that they made this quasi-sequel without its original star (Harrison Ford) is a tribute to the strength of Jones' presence in the earlier film, where he had more dialogue than the lead. Jones made a big impression and won an Oscar. Here he hits the same marks with the same razor-edged delivery; everything's right about his performance, except that it's in a rambling movie.
Take the opening sequence, where Jones disguises himself as a fast-food chicken to supervise a stake-out of a wanted man. There's a break-in, a fight, some violence, an arrest, TV interviews, a jailing, a tavern scene to celebrate, a reprimand by his superior (Kate Nelligan)--and all for what? So that the guy they caught can be put on a plane to a Missouri prison, and Sam Gerard can be put on the same flight.
Also on that plane to Missouri is another character, played by Wesley Snipes. When we first see him he's a Chicago tow-truck driver. Another driver causes a crash, the Snipes character is hospitalized, his prints are checked, and he's arrested and charged with the murders of two agents in New York. He protests that it's a case of mistaken identity. Is it? Never mind that for a moment. Stop to consider. All you need for the movie to get rolling, is to establish the Snipes character and get him on that plane with Marshal Gerard. The marshal doesn't need a lot of establishing because (1) we know him from the earlier movie, and (2) Tommy Lee Jones can establish himself with three lines of dialogue, as he did in the first film.