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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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This is a terrific thriller with excellent performances by Gene hackamn, Anne Archer, J.T. Walsh, James Sikking, M.Emmett Walsh, and Susan Hogan. There are also some terrific action scenes. This film is guaranteed to keep the viewer on the edge of one's seat.
The plot is simple. A woman, Carol Hunnicutt (Anne Archer), goes on a blind date with an attorney (J.T. Walsh) with whom a well meaning friend has set her up. He gets a business call that he needs to return as soon as possible. She accompanies him to his apartment. She excuses herself and goes to use the bathroom. In the interim, he is visited by one of his clients, Leo Watts, and another man. Watts confronts the attorney with the fact that he knows that the attorney has gotten himself into a financial hole and has, consequently, stolen a lot of money from him. The attorney, knowing watts to be a ruthless mobster, begins to cry. Carol, overhearing the commotion, cautiously opens the door, only to see the other man with Watts execute her blind date.
Terror stricken, she sits mute for sometime and then disappears to a remote Canadian location, where she is ultimately tracked down by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) and a Los Angeles Police Department Detective, who has accompanied him. They are working on the case involving the murder of the attorney, and they believe that she may have some relevant information, as her fingerprints were discovered at the crime scene and traced back to her via an old anti-war protest arrest.
Unfortunately, Watts' men also find her, almost simultaneously, and the games begin in earnest, with the detective killed in the process. Robert and Carol make a run for it and board a train headed towards Vancouver. Right behind them are the hit men, who also board the same train, hot on their heels. A life or death cat and mouse game commences. What happens on that train will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. This is, without a doubt, a well executed thriller.
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on 18 April 2005
Narrow Margin is one of those small time films which gives so much more than it's more well publicised and better known stable mates, but yet because of silly issues doesn't quite fulfil its true potential.
The story idea is thrilling just in itself. Witness to a mob murder, Carol Honnicut played by Anne Archer is forced to flee for her life before she can possibly testify. She is tracked down by grizzled deputy D.A. Robert Caufield (Gene Hackman), but at the same time because of a mystery mole in the D.A.'s office the mob and various henchmen are also on the trail of Ms Honnicut. Forced to take refuge on a passing train travelling through the Canadian Rockies, the question is will the pursuing bad guys find Caufield and Honnicut before these two make it to safety.
Hackman is great in this sort of film. He manages to find the right balance between being a all-action hero and a sensitive father figure and yet still use all the tricks in the book to increase the tension levels at every opportunity. The rest of the cast support ably well although none of them, including Archer, really have enough of the action to make a great impression. Mentions to James Sikking as the lead henchman for a pretty good sinister performance though.
** Possible Spoilers**
Where the film let's itself down though is the numerous occasions where the "right" course of action is blindingly obvious yet the main leads go bumbling down the wrong path, leading themselves into more danger. Caufield, creeping around the buffet car, trying not to let anyone notice him, meets a pretty woman and within seconds has told her his name! Using the toy gun as a decoy he disarms one of the baddies, "Ha Ha! Toy Gun!" he gleefully crows until the baddie gives him a good whack! Honnicut puts on a pregnant act in order to get the last private carriage on the train, and then runs out of the ticket office in full view of everyone, including the kindly elderly couple who have given up their tickets with no further pretence at the act! There are plenty more occasions for more of this type of poor screenplay and with a bit of attention to detail this could have been a real gem of a film.
I won't be too hard on the film though. It's still great fun and still gets you gasping at all the right points and hey guess what? It's a train film and the goodie and the baddie end up rolling around on the roof! Now there's a surprise!
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on 24 April 2001
Not a very well known film admittedly, but this is such an entertaining one. Gene Hackman is brilliant in it. From the start the film captures you and you want to know how it will end. I remember renting this film out ages ago and have wanted to buy a copy ever since, now I have. I highly recommend this film, it will keep you on the edge of your seat I promise you!!
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on 23 March 2008
Not a bad crime drama for its time, made in 1990 and starring Gene Hackman who you know is always going to give 110% and the never ageing Anne Archer,who in her late 30's? goes on a blind date and he gets shot for crossing a mob boss.As she witnesses it and mistakenly tells someone she becomes a target.Enter Hackman who works as a Dep.D.A. and offers her a deal to help bring the mob boss to justice.More shooting and bodies later, a train-journey,lies and more lies,double-crossing,trust-no-one.A well made crime drama.Give it a view.
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on 30 March 2016
Carol Hunnicutt is on a blind date. Her date happens to be a mob accountant who has stolen money from his boss. He gets murdered right before Carol`s eyes and she hides in the bathroom to avoid the killers. Los Angeles district attorney makes it his mission to bring Carol back from hiding to testify against the mob boss, Leo Watts. Good action movie with twists and turns along the way. I love it.
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Peter Hyams' remake of Richard Fleisher's 1952 The Narrow Margin focuses more on atmosphere and scenery than it does film noir. It does make for a cool, if a bit too short, movie.

Gene Hackman is the loudmouth Deputy DA desperate to get a big daddy mob boss behind bars. And when a shy book editor witnesses a mob assassination he treks out to Middleofnowhere, Canada to drag her into court to testify. Problem's arise when the bad guys show up in the wilderness and blow the crap out of her cabin.

A brilliant, rustic car/chopper chase down the sheer slopes of a mountain forest follows. It's an exciting scene with some great shots and sharp editing. Once they reach the bottom of the mountain they find a train station and board the train for a private cabin. The bad guys follow, only they still don't know what their witness looks like.

Many scenes of hiding and seeking make up the rest of the movie. It doesn't sound like much but Peter Hyams' anamorphic Panavision photography is used to the max to promote a sense of claustrophobia and even the quieter scenes are dominated by the sound of the train charging through the dark Canadian wilderness. One particular scene at Monashee Station really does take advantage of the 'middle of nowhere' feeling.

Bruce Broughton's score is kind of okay, but nothing as loud and exciting as the score he originally created. Peter Hyams disagreed (as he often does with his composers) and chopped up Broughton's work in post-production. Thus, the music in the movie is more of an underscore with much of the more action-based cues missing. You ought to hunt down the Narrow Margin (Original Score) if you want to hear what Broughton actually composed for the film.

I wish it did last longer and with more scenes on the train (coz trains are cool) but, for what it is, Narrow Margin is a slightly wrought thriller with Gene Hackman on top form as always and having fun playing the older guy in the suit who can still get into fights and car chases as if it were his everyday job.

The DVD is in okay-looking 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with a fair amount of extras.
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on 23 January 2014
Narrow Margin is entertaining enough but there is nothing very special happening within its 90 minutes. The plot revolves around a woman who witnesses a murder on her blind date. The assassins don't know that she has seen them. She goes into hiding anyway and Gene Hackman the cop finds her, so she will testify. Only thing is that her would be assassins have followed Hackman and all hell ensues. It can't be lost on anyone that if Hackman had just left her to be, she would have never have been in danger and several lifes would have been saved. Still we would never have had a film.

Most of Narrow Margin takes place on a train, with Hackman and the woman and the assassins playing some type of cat and mouse game. Peter Hyams directs very well and certianly keeps the movie going in the right direction- at least you want to keep on viewing. Gene Hackman is a bit of a letdown here- he's supposed to be a cop but comes across like the train janitor. It all doesn't quite click. Best to check out the superior 1950s original.
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on 7 January 2013
Brilliant Gene Hackman again in a re-make of one of the old 40-50 black and white with a moden twist fantastic acting all round and great action.. Loved the view of Canada from the train as well that alone would make it a good travel log..
First class 5 stars all the way
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on 18 February 2012
High tension action packed movie that keeps you nibbling your nails and on the edge of your seat throughout. Easily my favourite Hackman movie, which reminds me of The Firm (with Tom Cruise) - at least in some parts of it. Although the story is a bit far fetched at times that doesn't ruin a great couple of hours of your life.
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1990's Narrow Margin made a poor showing at the box-office, which is a pity because this is a thriller that really thrills. All too quickly dismissed by many critics for committing the cardinal sin of being a remake (in this case of Richard Fleischer's classic 1952 B-movie), it's a superbly paced example of pure commercial film-making at its most satisfying.

Intelligently scripted by director Peter Hyams (Capricorn One, Outland) with an admirable use of Scope that emphasises the claustrophobic nature of the game of cat-and-mouse, there are at least two genuinely breath-taking moments even before the inevitable train-top finale. Yet the film is always careful to maintain a semblance of credibility. As a result, it derives as much of its suspense from our involvement with the characters as from its bravura action sequences.

True, these are stereotypes - idealistic DA, frightened-but-honest witness, pragmatic killer - but they are believable stereotypes who behave logically, relying on their wits. If the watchword of Hyams' Outland was professionalism, in Narrow Margin it is self-reliance. Both sides have to make the most of what is to hand in a restrictive environment that works against them equally.

If this enclosed environment had been a spaceship and the killers aliens, Narrow Margin might have wowed them at the box-office. As it is, without an easily exploitable angle, it proved one of the most mystifying of Hyams' frequent financial disappointments: Hyams at his peak was the consummate commercial film-maker, yet paradoxically his films were never very commercially successful. With impressive performances from Hackman, Archer and Hyams' regular James B. Sikking as the businessman-like killer who prefers negotiation to coercion, Narrow Margin deserved much, much better. It's a good movie, and one you won't just watch once.

Unfortunately, neither the UK PAL DVD or the Region 1 DVD isn't particularly good, with no real extras (although both offer a widescreen transfer). You're much better off tracking down the Region 2 German PAL DVD, which comes with an exclusive audio commentary (in English) by Hyams, as well as brief featurette, behind-the-scenes footage and theatrical trailer.
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