The Fugitive review: Classic TV crime drama gets Quibi reboot

Kiefer Sutherland (right) stars in Quibi's The Fugitive. (Photo Credit; Richard Foreman Jr/Courtesy of Quibi)
Kiefer Sutherland (right) stars in Quibi's The Fugitive. (Photo Credit; Richard Foreman Jr/Courtesy of Quibi) /

The Fugitive gets another remake on Quibi.

The Fugitive is back on TV for the first time in 20 years thanks to Quibi—and the third version of the show is wildly different from the first two.

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains basic plot details from the first episode of The Fugitive, premiering today on Quibi.

That’s only partly because of the platform, which divides up the story into eight-minute episodes. There’s a new story, too; instead of Dr. Richard Kimble trying to find his wife’s real killer, now Mike Ferro (Narcos star Boyd Holbrook) is being framed for blowing up a subway train.

Nick Santora, who created CBS‘ quirky TV crime drama Scorpion, is behind this version, which feels closer to 24 than The Fugitive in the first four episodes released to press.

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There’s the obvious: Kiefer Sutherland co-stars as Captain Clay Bryce, the top-notch LAPD officer who leads the hunt for Mike.

But it doesn’t stop there; the team that Sutherland’s character leads happens to be called the Counter-Terrorism Bureau (CTB), which is the real name of the actual unit. However, it also isn’t that far off from 24‘s Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU).

Bryce has a dead wife, just like Jack Bauer. His number-two agent is a tough woman, though hopefully Sloan (Genesis Rodriguez, Hours) doesn’t turn out to be a mole like Nina Myers. And Stephen Hopkins, who directed throughout the first season of 24 including the pilot, directs The Fugitive.

If you were a 24 fan, you’ll be amused by these little similarities, which together with Kiefer Sutherland’s casting will prompt people to naturally compare the two shows.

The Fugitive, however, is not yet on 24‘s level. The short runtime works against it; a great thriller is built on momentum, and eight minutes just isn’t enough to completely lose yourself in the story. It also means that there’s less time for the character development that a normal TV show would do.

We learn a lot about Mike in the first chapter of The Fugitive, which takes place prior to the bombing, but Bryce is thus far the usual supercop. He barks orders at his team, including snarling about how L.A. is “my city.” It’s briefly established that his wife died in the line of duty during 9/11. He’s got some sort of a Texan or Southern accent, so he’s clearly got a story about how he got to Los Angeles, but we’re not privy to it yet.

Sutherland does well with what he’s given, though; he’s one of those actors who has only gotten better as his career has gone on, and there’s no denying that he’s got the screen presence to make a formidable opponent. Holbrook, having the more emotional role, does a great job of being that Everyman whose life goes upside-down in a moment. It’s exciting to think of what will happen when these two get some serious screen time together.

It’s been two decades since the last The Fugitive remake with Tim Daly and Mykelti Williamson, and Quibi has certainly updated the premise for the modern era. By scrapping the Richard Kimble story they’ve taken an incredible risk—they’ve dismantled the framework of the show, but they’ve also given themselves room to go in any number of directions.

If later episodes can make Mike’s issues more complex than just terrorism, and flesh out the characters more to create a compelling dynamic between Mike and Bryce, this could evolve into a first-rate thriller. Holbrook and Sutherland are certainly capable of getting it there. But for now, like both characters, viewers will be looking for a few missing pieces.

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The Fugitive is streaming now on Quibi; new episodes premiere Monday-Friday through Aug. 18.