''The Fugitive'''s action sequence -- A behind-the-scenes look at how director Andrew Davis shot the summer's most thrilling action scene

By Tim Appelo
Updated August 20, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

Indiana Jones, you’ve just been blown away: Harrison Ford’s new thriller, The Fugitive, puts him smack at the center of a slam-bang chase scene that out-Spielbergs Spielberg. The scene, the biggest action in what looks to be the late summer’s biggest action movie, entails a collision between a train and the bus taking Ford’s character, Dr. Richard Kimble, to prison. The smashup springs the falsely accused wife killer, creating a bit of film history in the bargain.

”There’s never been a train-crash sequence done on this scale live,” says coproducer Peter Macgregor-Scott, architect of the disaster. Usually, miniatures and superimposed studio shots are used. But except for just a few such bits of trickery, the Fugitive crash really happened as you see it on screen, captured by 13 cameras on the Great Smoky Mountains Railway west of Asheville, N.C. Cameras developed for combat use were shielded in steel boxes on the front of the runaway locomotive and in Ford’s seat on the bus, where he’s struggling to wriggle through a broken window. ”You wouldn’t want to be there,” Macgregor-Scott notes drolly.

Director Andrew Davis, whose mayhem management on the thriller Under Siege earned him the Fugitive job, says, ”Not to degrade Steven Spielberg, but he shoots storyboards. There’s not a frenetic, accidental, anything-can-happen quality. Basically, my concept is, Shot the s— out of it and use the best pieces. And the rest is fate.”

Despite a painful knee injury (from a previously shot running scene) that threatened to sideline Ford, and a technical glitch or two, fate was kind. ”Bang, and it was over!” recalls Macgregor-Scott. ”And we got what we got. There was no take two on that.”

The Fugitive

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 130 minutes
  • Andrew Davis