Review

  • What a completely redundant and pointless idea to do a remake of Richard Fleischer's superb and still perfectly undated film-noir masterpiece "The Narrow Margin"… But hey, bad ideas got turned into highly entertaining movies before and particularly the cast & crew involved in this early 90's production should make you more confident. Peter Hyams is a gifted director (and an even better cinematographer), Gene Hackman is his good old reliable self and, since the script pretty much follows the same trail – or should I say 'rail' – as the '52 original, you already know that'll be good as well. Carol Hunnicut witnesses the cold-blooded murder of a mafia attorney at the end of their blind date and promptly becomes the only key witness ever to testify against well-protected crime lord Leo Watts. When the dedicated prosecutor Robert Caulfield travels out her secluded hideout place in order to convince the reluctant woman to do the right thing, this triggers a virulent deadly cat and mouse game with a duo of professional killers. The chase largely takes place on the night train to Vancouver (the ideal inescapable location) and the good guys' only advantage is that their opponents don't know what Carol looks like. One of the taglines proudly claims that "Narrow Margin" will take you to the edge of suspense. That is perhaps a slightly too optimistic promise, but it's definitely one of the better suspense-thrillers of its time. A lot of little elements and twists in the plot seem rushed and don't make a whole lot of sense, but who cares when there's stuff to enjoy like a spectacular helicopter Vs. Jeep chase through the Canadian forests or an exhilarating battle of train's rooftop? Bruce Broughton's divinely unsettling score most definitely increases the tension level even more. Gene Hackman clearly enjoyed starring in this light-headed action thriller and particularly his speech to the killers – about why he prefers working on the right side of the law – is truly priceless. There are some great names in the supportive cast as well (J.T. Walsh, M. Emmet Walsh…) but sadly their roles are too brief. Overall recommended as long as you don't anticipate a flawless masterpiece but, if it ever comes down to choosing just one, go for the superior 50's original.