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Once again, Jones goes in hot pursuit

March 10, 2003|Robert W. Welkos

Had Tommy Lee Jones been cast as the FBI agent chasing Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit film "Catch Me If You Can," it would have been a very different movie, but the title is a perfect fit for Jones.

Ever since he appeared opposite Harrison Ford in the 1993 blockbuster "The Fugitive," in which he played a U.S. marshal in hot pursuit of Dr. Richard Kimble, the Texas-born, Harvard-educated Jones seems to be a frequent choice whenever Hollywood is looking for a determined pursuer.

In "U.S. Marshals," he hunted down escaped criminals. In "Double Jeopardy," he tracked down a paroled woman bent on revenge against her husband. And in the "Men in Black" movies, he joined Will Smith in chasing aliens to avert intergalactic disaster.

"The Hunted," which opens Friday, presents Jones as a retired special-ops instructor who tries to capture his former student (Benicio Del Toro), a military assassin-turned-renegade, who is killing hunters in the Pacific Northwest. The Paramount film was directed by William Friedkin.

Like Ed Harris, John C. Reilly and Christopher Walken, Jones, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for "The Fugitive," is one of the premier character actors working today. In his wisecracking determination, "Tommy Lee Jones reminds me a lot of Vin Diesel," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co. "These guys seem like the real deal. It doesn't appear that they're acting when playing tough guys. He has this look about him, this aura, that here is a serious guy, that he could do in real life what he does on screen. He's a guy you wouldn't want chasing after you."

Maybe Jones and Diesel should be paired in a movie. But who would pursue whom?

-- Robert W. Welkos

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