Written by: Preston A. Whitmore II
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Stephen Baldwin, Will Patton, Robert John Burke, Salma Hayek
Unlikely pairs carry an inherent entertainment value in the way they bring together two individuals who do not like each other and force them to get along. They must for their own survival if they end up chained to each other and fleeing from pending danger. This becomes the central premise of what turns into a large conspiracy in the underseen but entertaining Fled, which has value solely for the fact it gives Laurence Fishburne a leading man role.
In jail for separate reasons, Charles Piper (Laurence Fishburne) and Luke Dodge (Stephen Baldwin) get handcuffed to each other. After a shaky incident while outside, Piper and Dodge escape and are now on the run. With the police and the Attorney General trying to bring them in, they have become hunted men.
With no real communication devices and targets on their back, the sense of danger around every corner for Piper and Dodge allows for Fled to be thrilling throughout. The two men establish they do not like each other fairly quickly in the narrative and things only get more aggressive as time goes on because deciding to run away as a prisoner reaches a point of no return. Coming back and apologizing will lead to the same result in trying to fully escape and getting caught. This is where these two men find themselves but they just happen to be tied together. This forces them to stay together even if they would love nothing more than go their separate ways. As a result, it leads to some funny interactions between them as they begin to foster a friendship based solely on survival and the cash Dodge needs to collect.
The setup for their pairing presents itself as two criminals on the run, but evidently, it gets far more complicated as witness tampering, murder, and evidence gathering becomes much more prominent as the story goes on. Reveals get made to elaborate on the circumstances of the situation, which forces us to question everyone involved with this case. Conspiracies fly and double-crosses happen, which aides this film to have broad entertainment value even if it does contain anything deeper. Fled certainly has no intention of being insightful, but it certainly delivers on the fronts it seeks to achieve.
The primary reason to seek out this film and why I ultimately landed positively on it comes from it being a leading role for Laurence Fishburne. He has remained a stalwart in my movie-watching life, especially with his iconic role as Morpheus in The Matrix films. However, not often does he receive the opportunity to be front and center and while he shares the spotlight in this feature with Stephen Baldwin, Fishburne absolutely nails the screen presence to be the only thing you think of when walking away from this movie. Not only does he bring the necessary physicality to the role, but he also serves as a great foil to the villains of this piece by continually surprising in what his character represents and how he alters situations in the process. It made me so glad to see him take on this role.
Fled very much feels like a 90s film in the way it gets constructed and how it feels. Its leads certainly point to it by themselves but the filmmaking as well. It comes together as a premise one would expect with a 90s movie while also having a similar look. You don’t see films with this kind of plot take center stage anymore and seeing how much it grossed at the box office spoke to where films like these could financially succeed. Some aspects feel dated and some of the twists do not get executed in the best way. It lands some moments really well but it could feasibly be a film many might not enjoy because it ultimately just feels like an empty crime thriller but with just enough entertainment juice in the tank, it ultimately comes together as something you can enjoy if you happen to run into it. There are certainly worse things you can spend 98 minutes doing and Fled treats you well with its good pacing, the constant building of intrigue in the story, and a healthy amount of comedy between these two leads as they begin despising each other and then develop a begrudging respect by the end.