Login

Narrow Margin Review

Image for Narrow Margin

A woman secretly witnesses the murder of her blind date for the evening by a top Mafia boss.

★★★★★

A remake of the excellent 1952 B-movie of the same name, this is a bit of an also-ran by comparison, though the many significant revisions to the original's plot mean that knowing the twist ending of the earlier film won't totally spoil the very different way things pan out here.

When her blind date is murdered as she looks on from behind the bathroom door, Anne Archer becomes a crucial witness in the case against a top mobster. Deputy District Attorney Gene Hackman traces her to the Canadian wilderness, but following him is a helicopter full of bad guys. A lot of badly aimed bullets later and Gene and Anne are scurrying aboard a long distance train with their pursuers still right behind them.

Because of a crooked official back in L.A., the villains know most of Hackman's intentions, but what they don't know is what Archer looks like and this turns the film into a kind of claustrophobic hide-and-seek on rails. Archer mostly stays out of sight in her compartment while Hackman prowls around in the corridors and club car, comes out with some good sarcastic lines and keeps the lurking opposition guessing.

There's a well handled finale on the roof of the moving train (with the two stars obviously doing many of their own stunts) and Hackman's performance is yet another of his patented moral porcupines. What this sometimes witty time-filler never quite manages is a genuine sense of confined menace. For that, you'll have to get aboard the original when it next plays on TV.

What this sometimes witty time-filler never quite manages is a genuine sense of confined menace. For that, you'll have to get aboard the original when it next plays on TV.