User Reviews (54)

Add a Review

  • This film pops up frequently on the tube, and with good reason -- it's lean, smart, and superbly acted. Director Hyams makes the most of the claustrophobic train interior contrasting with the wide open Canadian wilderness. Gene Hackman has never been better. Tension is built through a series of one-on-one confrontations, each with electric undercurrents. The best by far is the gentlemanly chat between Hackman and James Sikking in the dining car. The standard "action-packed" ending is a bit disappointing. But don't let this stop you if you're into suspense films for the thinking person.
  • In Los Angeles, the editor of a publishing house Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer) goes to a blind date with the lawyer Michael Tarlow (J.T. Walsh), who has embezzled the powerful mobster Leo Watts (Harris Yulin). Carol accidentally witnesses the murder of Michel by Leo's hit-man. The scared Carol sneaks out of Michael's room and hides in an isolated cabin in Canada.

    Meanwhile the Deputy District Attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) and Sgt. Dominick Benti (M. Emmett Walsh) discover that Carol is a witness of the murder and they report the information to Caulfield's chief Martin Larner (J.A. Preston) and they head by helicopter to Canada to convince Carol to testify against Leo. However they are followed and the pilot and Benti are murdered by the Mafia. Caulfield and Carol flees and they take a train to Vancouver.

    Caulfield hides Carol in his cabin and he discloses that there are three hit-man in the train trying to find Carol and kill her. But they do not know her and Caulfield does not know who might be the third killer from the Mafia and who has betrayed him in his office.

    "Narrow Margin" is a great remake of the 1952 "The Narrow Margin" by Richard Fleischer. When I saw this remake in the early 90's for the first time, I did not know the original movie. The story is well written and this remake is breathtaking with the action scenes on the roof of the train. Further, the lead actor is the Gene Hackman, one of the best actors of the American cinema. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "De Frente para o Perigo" ("In Front of the Peril")
  • It's odd to like an original film and then like the re-make equally so, if not more, but that's the case with this film. I have viewed both versions of this film at least three times apiece and thoroughly enjoy both.

    Almost 55 years ago, this was a film noir called "The Narrow Margin" and in 1990, this re-make took off the "The" on the title. However, as is sometimes the case with remakes, some of the twists and turns of this thriller were also changed from the first film.

    They didn't spoil it. I have no objection to the changes made here because the bottom line is entertainment, and that's where this movie excels. Plausible? No, but neither was the original, for that matter, and neither are a lot of suspense/ crime films.

    What makes this re-run good, in addition to the great suspense, are several other things: 1 - Gene Hackman, one of the best actors of his generation and often overlooked in discussions of great actors; 2 - nice photography featuring some great train shots and the scenic Canadian Rockies; 3 - an interesting assortment of characters, some of which keep you guessing whether they are the good guys or the bad guys; 4 - a dash of humor thrown in here and there to break the tension.

    In addition to Hackman, we see the sexy Anne Archer, who gives a nice film noir feel to the movie and we get some good supporting performances including two from guys with the same last name: J.T. and Emmet Walsh and one from a guy who plays one of the hit men: James Sikking. That's a name I'm not familiar with, but he has a scene talking to Hackman that is riveting.

    The main fault of the movie at least to me, was the "Rambo" mentality in which I mean the villains have the good guy in point-blank, can't-miss range several times and....you guessed it: they miss. The action scenes in here are great but lack credibility, or this would be almost as good as it could ever get for a "thriller." I'm still tempted to rate it a "10" for the entertainment value alone.
  • Narrow Margin (1990) is a remake of a fondly remembered B-movie that became a real sleeper hit. It does not match the original for suspense or excitement, but it does boast a truly towering performance by Gene Hackman who takes the Charles MacGraw role and gives it everything he's got.

    The story is about a DA from L.A, who travels to a mountain cabin in Canada to pick up a female murder witness. Some baddies follow him (because they want to kill the witness), but he manages to escape with her as far as the local railway station. They board an overnight train, bound for Vancouver, and spend the next day or so evading the killers on the train.

    Hackman is quite brilliant, whether delivering panicky dialogue in a whisper or indulging in some violent action atop the speeding express. James B. Sikking makes a chilling assassin. Anne Archer is convincing as the vulnerable and terrified witness who would rather be anywhere other than where she is. Director Peter Hyams packs in some solid action sequences, such as a nerve-jangling car chase through a forest, and a savage fight on the roof of the train.

    Where this film falls short is in the suspense department and the pacing. There are moments where Hackman and Archer are allowed to relax too much. One scene in particular involves Hackman and Sikking having a lengthy conversation at a dinner table; when Hackman leaves, you'd expect them to follow him to her, but they don't. There's another bit where the action jumps from about 1 a.m. to the next morning, without any indication of what kind of events have taken place during the night. There's also a lot of long shots of the lovely scenery, but to get the claustrophobic atmosphere the maker's needed to emphasise the inside of the train, not the outside landscapes. It's a pretty good film, but there are just a few things about it which drag it down a peg or two.
  • This movie succeeds on the talent of Gene Hackman and his co-stars especially Anne Archer and James Sikking. The story is as follows Carol Hunnicutt (Archer) is a witness to a mob killing, so she hides in a remote part of Canada. los Angeles Deputy D.A Robert Caulfield (Hackman)is given the task of finding her to bring her back to L.A to testify at a Mob trial, but he accidently tells the Hit-men out to silence her - her whereabouts, so when he arrives at her remote cabin, there a helicopter full of bad guys waiting for them - so begins a enjoyably suspense chase through remote Canada, they decide to get on a Cross-Country train.. but the bad guys are also on board, so theyt spend the night trying to avoid a bullet. If it sounds familiar it's because the movie's a remake of the 1950'S RKO Picture of the same name starring Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor.

    Double crosses,dirty cops and tension throughout but the script could have been better and the movie (just over 90 mins) could have been longer and the climax is slightly disappointing

    otherwise it's a good early 1990's movie from Peter Hyams who's had a bit of a hit and miss career since,HIT:- Timecop (1994) and The Relic (1997) and Sudden Death (1995) - MISS:- Stay Tuned (1992) and End of days (1999)

    My rating 8/10
  • Terrific action thriller with great actors. Unfortunately, they don't have much to say because the action takes over. There isn't much time to develop a character when you're being chased up and down a mountain. Still, this is a great example of the genre. I can't help but think that it would have been a lot more successful financially with younger, hipper stars. I also think that would have ruined it.

    The direction is very matter-of-fact. Some movies like this reel you in with a definite "atmosphere", stylized to death. I'm tempted to say this movie has no style at all, but that would be a disservice to Hackman and Archer, who give it all the style it needs.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A remake of a 1952, Narrow Margin manages to evoke not only an old way of life but a nearly vanished breed of filmmaking. This is an "R" rated action-thriller for actual grown ups. It's got some excitement, suspense and a few expletives, which back in 1990 guaranteed this thing an "R" but today might slip past as "PG-13", but the star of the movie is a spry 60, his leading lady is 42 and the storytelling is meant to appeal to viewers of that age without insulting their intelligence or taste. Outside of maybe the James Bond franchise, nobody really makes action-thrillers for an adult audience anymore. You basically just have to watch whatever cartoonish crap the kids are into.

    While on a blind date, Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer) witnesses a murder. She flees to Canada to hide but because she's the only one who can connect a menacing mobster (Harris Yulin) to the killing, an insolent assistant DA named Caulfield (Gene Hackman) sets out to bring her back to Los Angeles to testify. After a deadly helicopter attack, Carol and Caulfield wind up trapped on a train as it chugs through the Canadian wilderness with two mob killers on board. With nowhere to run and only a few places to hide, the reluctant witness and the defiant prosecutor have to work together if they hope to survive.

    Made in a world before omnipresent cell phones and by a film industry that didn't turn every knob up to 11 for every second of screen time, Narrow Margin looks, feels and acts like a period piece. The setting is only slightly more familiar than the 1890s and the filmmaking has more in common with the 1940s than it does with today. So your reaction to this motion picture will depend on the diversity and leniency of you cinema palate. As put off as you are by the circumstance and the styling of the film, that's how much you'll be bothered by little plot holes and clunky sub plots. For example, Caulfield has several encounters with another woman on the train and they're such a blatant digression from the main story, you can't help but suspect they're leading to something, deflating the surprise when they do.

    If you keep an open mind, however, there's something to enjoy about a thriller that's more than an assembly line moving characters from one stunt extravaganza to another. Indeed, it's the personal dynamic between Carol and Caulfield that fills up most of the story, giving it a more honestly dramatic tone than usual. There's a good scene where Anne Archer gets to strut her stuff as Carol finally opens up and unloads on Caulfield and another when Caulfield gets tired of indulging his witness' reluctance and lays this blunt guilt trip on her. And when Caulfield finally gets a face-to-face meeting with the killers, it's a nice bit of business where James B. Sikking carries the action as the lead hit-man until Hackman steps in with his always surprising power to both end the discussion and propel the film forward into its final act.

    I wouldn't say Narrow Margin is a great film, though it does have a great cast. J.T. Walsh, M. Emmett Walsh and Harris Yulin are the sort of character actors that you can almost put them in any role, in any sort of tale, and they'll make it better through their presence. Seeing the aforementioned Sikking was enough to make me want to go watch some old episodes of Hill Street Blues and Nigel Bennet as the 2nd hit-man on the train almost makes me want to do the same with Forever Knight. When you've got someone like Hackman leading the way, it's essential that the other performers are able to keep up with him.

    Director Peter Hyams also makes good use of his train setting, both for thrills and other aspects of storytelling. I t's an inherently more interesting way to travel and offers up far more opportunities for physical movement than either flying or driving. The rooftop climax used here may somewhat pale when compared to the wire-fu, jump cut, CGI-frenzy of modern action sequences, but that's a bothersome bit of bar raising which is going to plague Hollywood for a very long time.

    Though dated, Narrow Margin is still worth seeing, especially when measured against the never ending torrent of misfires, failures and nigh-unwatchable garbage with which the movie industry assaults us. I prefer seeing an old film that's okay to a new one that sucks. Your mileage may vary.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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 a great scene with some cool 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' widescreen 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.

    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.
  • This tense,taut thriller deals about a D.A. protecting a witness(Anne Archer) on a train journey throughout the wilderness Canadian Rockies back to Los Angeles.He must save her from deadly killers (Nigel Bennet, James B. Sikking). Hackman fights to keep them both safe from the hard-boiled hit-men in some exciting pursuits such as helicopters and aboard and in top train .

    Well made film full of noisy action, tension , suspense, breathtaking stunts and spectacular set pieces. A real cat and mouse game between Hackman-Archer and heavies Sikking-Bennet. Gene Hackman is splendid as two-fisted deputy prosecutor who is in charge of transporting a widow and he must attempt to keep her safe from the murderous who would kill her to testify against a mobster played by Harris Yulin. Relieable Anne Archer is first rate as reluctant and long-suffering witness . Lavishly produced cost 20 millions of dollar by today disappeared Carolco created by the famous producers, Mario Kassar and Andrew G Vajna. Moving and stirring musical score by Bruce Broughton, fitting perfectly to action. This thrilling motion picture is finely photographed and stunningly directed by Peter Hyams . However it results to be an inferior remake of its predecessor, a noir classic directed by Richard Fleischer with Mary Windsor and Charles McGraw, one of the best films of the 50s and one of the most successful in the story of RKO.
  • Gene Hackman and Anne Archer star in a good thriller that has tense moments and wonderful Canadian scenery. The story is of a frightened woman who sees a man killed and takes flight to avoid having to appear as a witness to a murder. Hackman is the resourceful district attorney who convinces Archer to return to Los Angeles and testify against the killers. The rest of the picture details a game of cat and mouse between Hackman, Archer and their pursuers who see Archer as a loose end and are determined to keep her from the courtroom. The scenes of pursuit atop the moving passenger train have been done in other films but is expertly done here without becoming a cliché. The picture does have its flaws but is a diverting film and any movie starring Hackman is certainly worth watching.
  • If your memory is good, you'll recall that this is a remake of the B&W sleeper classic starring Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor called "The Narrow Margin," with most of the action taking place aboard the confinement of a speeding train. Their tough chemistry throughout made it very watchable indeed.

    The remake has made a few minor changes in the story and expanded the scenery to include some lush images of Canadian forests and countryside to give credit to some photogenic Canadian wilderness from various angles.

    The expansions mean the film isn't quite as taut as the '52 thriller with occasional dull stretches of talk, but the performances are so good that it doesn't matter too much. It still contains a spellbinding climax aboard the top of the train that includes some dangerous stunt work and a nice twist, as well as spectacular moments involving a helicopter.

    Not bad at all, passes the time quickly and once the suspense aboard the train starts there's no turning away.

    Perhaps not as good as the original, but still worth watching. Gene Hackman and Anne Archer do fine work at the head of a competent cast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Cinematographers have loved trains since their very beginning (in 1896, L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat.. 1903, The Great Train Robbery, ...) I love movies, I love trains, so I'm of course very fond of movies that feature trains prominently: Keaton's General, La bête humaine, Murder on the Orient Express, Silver Streak, Under Siege 2, Train de vie, and a number of lesser ones.

    Narrow Margin is a nice addition to this collection. It presents views of West Canadian railroading, in good style, even though it doesn't offer spectacular stunts, like people or vehicles falling from high bridges, or crashing into some Union Station :^) The classic elements of running on cars' roofs, ducking before tunnels are included though. An off-train prelude builds up the situation, just to put all major players on the train, into the claustrophobic atmosphere, contrasted with wide landscape shots.

    Of course there's more plot etc., and nice details, like the water-pistol and the (too) tall bad lady. Nothing spectacular, but a pleasing experience all in all.
  • A few weeks ago my Aunt (a very nice woman) gave me a copy of Narrow Margin DVD, which was free with the Daily Mail. I had not heard of this film before but was pleased to see that Gene Hackman was in it so I thought I would give it a go in the machine and I must say I'm glad I did.

    NARROW MARGIN DVD Narrow Margin (1990) is basically about Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer) who witnesses a mob killing of her blind date and goes on the run,hiding in a remote part of Canada. L.A. District Attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) is informed of her whereabouts by a close friend who then tracks her down to testify but it's not to long before the Mob (bad guys) find out where she is too. Both the cop and the witness are chased through the Canadian Rockies, where their only hope is to take refuge on a claustrophobic Vancouver-bound train. Caulfield (Hackman) is then double crossed by a bent cop and so the killers know there every movement on board the train.

    The talented Gene Hackman plays his part extremely well as so does the reluctant witness Anne Archer,who both help make this a compelling and an enthralling film to watch. The chase whilst there on the train is very exciting with great scenic mountain views in the background. Here is a link from IMDb showing a clip of the chase on the roof of the train which is well worth watching in my opinion. http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1083965721/

    I must say I did enjoy watching Narrow Margin, although I noticed some of the shots/special effects of the speeding Vancouver-bound train looked like plastic scaled models (I'm sure I'm right). The story is fair perhaps a bit simple but I suppose most films revolving around a train chase are. As I said if Gene Hackman was not in this film or someone to match his caliber this film would spell out a big MISS. Yes you could say this is yet another chase film/movie but may I say it's certainly fun to watch.

    SUMMARY Narrow Margin DVD is an exciting film and one I would recommend watching first before you go out and buy it full price. Gene Hackman's performance is top notch and with the help of Peter Hyams (Director) they successfully succeeded in making this a very compelling film to watch and appreciate,especially the gripping chase on the train. I am pretty sure most of you will enjoy the fast pace through out the film and at 94 mins there's never a dull moment. 6.6/10
  • For once, the remake is better than the original. Richard Fleischer's black and white movie has many fans, and rightly so, but the 1990 version really has something to it that makes me watch it again and again. The story and the characters have largely improved, and someone really had a lucky hand with the casting here. Gene Hackman gives a great performance as the loudmouth police detective who finds out that he is not as smart as he had thought. He is on his own, he is scared and he also has a bad conscience. Along with numerous action scenes he shows all these sentiments, the viewers can really feel with him. The same can be said for Anne Archer, together with Hackman she makes a formidable team. She is really perfect for the part of an upper middle class businesswoman who is looking for some romance and suddenly finds herself on the hit list of the mob. A formidable opening scene with a short but really great performance by J.T. Walsh sets the tone, and the tension never loosens.

    A very important part is also played by the landscape, a remote, idyllic part of Western Canada, I believe. The director successfully succeeded in putting a romantic scenery opposite to the harrowing plot, the hectic action which has nothing to do with its immediate surroundings. Nature is depicted in its friendliest forms of appearance as an innocent bystander. Everything is so normal, so lovely, except ...
  • Very suspenseful movie for someone who has moved beyond Steven Segal and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Requires a certain number of neurons to be firing at the same time to really enjoy it. Gene Hackman's performance has been under appreciated. It exceeds his portrayal of Popeye Doyle in The French Connection and its sequel. This character is tough, but a lot more likable. The repartee between his character and the assassin is excellent, but as I said previously, does require some finesse.
  • Gene Hackman is razor-sharp and in fine form here as a Deputy District Attorney who accompanies frightened murder witness Carol Hunnicutt (Anne Archer) on an eventful train ride through the wilds of British Columbia. You see, Carol had watched from the bathroom while mobster Leo Watts (Harris Yulin) and one of his many henchmen (Canadian character actor Nigel Bennett) rubbed out her blind date (the too briefly seen J.T. Walsh). Caulfield (Hackman) tracks Carol down, but these many henchmen are right on their heels, and turn up on the train. Said goons are confident that it's only a matter of time before they find her, although one supposed thing that Caulfield and Carol have in their favour is that the bad guys don't know what she looks like.

    Veteran filmmaker Peter Hyams, well known for diversions like "Capricorn One" and "2010" remakes the 1952 film noir classic with surprisingly engaging results. It doesn't quite have the same stark atmosphere, or sense of menace, but it still displays some genuine tension, has some terrific action set pieces (especially on top of and outside the train), and also has some pretty amusing dialogue by Hyams. Hyams, who's served as his own cinematographer since the early 80s, does tend to under light scenes at times, a common element in his work. But he gives it some great pace; even though this version runs about 25 minutes longer than the 1952 one, it doesn't meander and gives us a number of compelling scenes. Particularly strong are conversations between Hackman and James B. Sikking (a regular in Hyams' filmography), who plays one of the goons, and between Hackman and Archer. The latter does a wonderful job of humanizing her, since it is possible that some people might not find her sympathetic enough before that point.

    Hackman is always fun to watch, and he makes for a solid hero. Archer is a delight, as usual. J.T. Walsh has one of *his* most sympathetic roles in a movie (he was often relegated to sleazy, white-collar criminal types), and he of course is great. So is M. Emmet Walsh, even if he's also under utilized as the detective who accompanies Caulfield to Carols' hideout.

    Ultimately, this movie version doesn't pull off its twists as well as the 1952 version, but it has enough entertainment value to make it well worth a viewing.

    Eight out of 10.
  • This remake of the 1952 noir classic The Narrow Margin has a lot more budget attached to it and some of the Clint Eastwood classic The Gauntlet tossed in as well. Like Charles McGraw in the original and Eastwood, Gene Hackman has to bring in a witness who can nail big time mobster Harris Yulin. Nail him for murder one.

    Hackman and cop M. Emmett Walsh locate witness Anne Archer up in the Canadian woods in a really remote spot. But the bad guys are on to them and Walsh is killed. The two make it to a southbound train for Los Angeles, but unarmed they are sitting ducks for the contract killers sent to get them. Hackman and Archer really have to use their wits to out think these people to stay alive.

    Hackman who has an edginess to his screen persona which makes castable as both good and bad guys with various shades to their character. Narrow Margin is one of the few films you will see him in as a thoroughgoing good guy.

    What Archer did is unfortunately be in the wrong place at the wrong time and what Yulin did wrong is be on the scene of a murder he ordered the hit for of J.T.Walsh a mob lawyer who stole from him. They didn't know she was there, but find out soon enough. Archer is the perfect portrayal of a witness who just wants to run and hide. As for Yulin, he forgot that successful crime families like the Corleones use a lot of buffers.

    Good tension that doesn't let up for a second once Archer is located and she and Hackman board the train.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Peter Hyams' 1990 remake of "The Narrow Margin" (1952) is full of suspense, high-speed thrills and exciting action sequences. Visually, many of the film noir characteristics are retained but this production is also considerably glossier and more colourful than its predecessor. Good use is made of some stunning locations in Canada and the cinematography is impressive throughout. The grittiness and sharp dialogue of the original are dispensed with and the main characters are noticeably much more sophisticated and well-mannered than they were in the Richard Fleischer version.

    Recent divorcée, Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer) goes on a blind date to a Los Angeles hotel where she meets successful lawyer Michael Tarlow (J.T. Walsh). Before they have a meal, Tarlow receives a note and has to make an important telephone call, so the couple go up to his suite where Carol immediately goes into the bathroom. When she comes out again, she sees two men talking to Tarlow and then witnesses one of them shooting and killing him before leaving. Shocked and panicked by what she's seen Carol furtively leaves the suite and goes into hiding.

    L.A. Deputy D.A. Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) learns that evidence has been found that a witness was present when Tarlow was murdered and also that the identity of the witness has been established. Excited by this information and the possibility it offers of bringing top crime boss, Leo Watts (Harris Yulin) to justice, he then ignores the lack of support that he receives from the D.A. and together with Police Sergeant Dominick Benti (M. Emmett Walsh) heads to the Canadian Rockies where the men visit the log cabin where Carol Hunnicut is hiding out. She's uncooperative and refuses to return to L.A. to testify, but as the men try to change her mind, a mob helicopter arrives overhead and the cabin is immediately engulfed in a storm of machine-gun bullets. Benti is killed in the attack and Caulfield and Hunnicut escape from the cabin in a pick-up truck hotly pursued by the helicopter.

    After a desperate chase down a steep forestry road, the couple arrive at a nearby station and take a train to Vancouver. The journey that follows proves to be extremely dangerous as there are two hit-men on board and also some other characters such as a fat man and a blonde woman who they don't know if they can trust.

    Gene Hackman brings a great deal of charm, energy and humour to his role as a guy who's out of his depth doing all the action-hero stunts and sums up his character's incorruptibility when he refuses a huge bribe by saying "I like my side of the courtroom, the pay's not so good but the air's a lot better". Anne Archer is also good in her role and makes her fear palpable as she tries desperately to escape the attentions of all her pursuers.

    "Narrow Margin" features a number of well-executed stunts, some well directed action sequences and a very strong cast. Its Hitchcockian influences add some extra interest but overall it's uncomplicated, fast-moving and extremely enjoyable.
  • Director Peter Hymans who also created other classic flicks, Sudden Death 1995, End of Days 1999 and Time Cop 1994 has created another gem in Narrow Margin.

    Starring Gene Hackman who has also been other classic flicks, Bonnie and Clyde 1967, Marooned 1969, The Quick and the Dead 1995, Crimson Tide 1995, The Hunting Party 1971 and Behind Enemy Lines 2001.

    Also starring Anne Archer who has also been in other classic flicks, Felon 2008, Clear and Present Danger 1994, Short Cuts 1993 and Fatal Attraction 1987.

    I enjoyed the shoot outs, chase scenes and the scenery.

    If you enjoyed this as much as I did then check out other classic train flicks, Runaway Train 1985, Taking of Phelham 123 1974, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory 1995, Snowpiercer 2013, Unstoppable 2010, The Midnight Meat Train 2008, Train to Busan 2016, Train 2008, The Commuter 2018 and The End of the Line 2007.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Carol Hunnicut inadvertently witnesses a mob hit, and her testimony can convict a very powerful gangster. Deputy district attorney Robert Caulfield is determined to put her on the stand and flies to a remote location in Canada where she is hiding out, but it's not long before the mob are on their trail. Frantically, they board a large passenger train going to Vancouver, but will they ever get off the train alive …

    This is a taut, dependable thriller; nothing special, but there isn't a dull scene anywhere and crucially Hyams has real gift for the rhythm of his movies - scenes flow effortlessly together and the atmosphere of tension is sustained from start to finish. The material is familiar but the execution is first rate, and reliable Hackman is the perfect anchor around which the film is built, an action hero without macho posturing or moralistic superiority. The film is as interesting when he's quietly negotiating with the bad guys as when they're chasing him in a helicopter, and that's the way it should be. There's also a terrific score by Bruce Broughton with a creepy four note piano motif, and fabulous stuntwork by Glenn Wilder - the finale atop the train is one of those rare scenes where the actors really look like they are in danger. A remake of the classic 1952 Richard Fleischer/Earl Felton film noir The Narrow Margin, this script isn't quite as clever (in the original the woman is the mobster's widow and there's a clever identity twist), but still has some surprises in store. Produced by Carolco Pictures (They Live, Shocker), with exteriors shot in beautiful British Columbia, this is a bad movie to be in if you're an actor called Walsh - both of them get killed in the first twenty minutes !
  • screenman26 December 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    Mr Hackman is well into his mature phase by the time of this movie. Gone is the brashness of Popeye Doyle that set his career alight in 'The French Connection'. By now he has perfected his singular technique of a nervous, self-conscious snigger, followed immediately by a forlorn, introspective expression. A little 'business' from the 'method' school of acting that has now become his trade mark. See him in 'The Firm' and you will know what I mean. In each movie he plays a lawyer - one good, one bad - but both acted identically. He is basically playing the same character in each. It works - but it's cheap.

    Coming back to this movie, there are the formulaic elements. A fat, cynical detective (ably played by the reliable Emmet Walsh) you just know is going to come unstuck. Baddies with machine guns who can't knock the skin off a rice pudding, a quick blast of pyrotechnics, a car chase, and an inevitable finale on the train roof. How many times have we seen that? There is an encounter with a femme fatale (another baddie) that is so amateurish, even a child could tell it was a set-up. Mr Goodman adds a little tragic humour. The scenery through which the train is passing creates a wonderfully photogenic set. It's a director's delight - which is probably why we see trouble on trains so often at the movies. There is a short but extremely spectacular railway ride over the White Pass of Alaska and down to Skagway on its coast. I guess movie moguls don't get up that way very often, otherwise it would have featured in a dozen dramas by now.

    Hackman's nervous anti-hero gradually forced into serious action is what keeps this movie up to speed with the train. Again, it's formulaic, but it's good. Well worth a watch. Replace Hackman with Steven Segal and you have 'Under Siege 2'. You're also down to 4 out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Narrow Margin is a redundant story--a person witnesses a mafia slaying and then, once they find out that there is a suspect, that innocent person becomes their next target. And it is usually a long, drawn out chase, while some cop decides to take it upon himself to risk his life to get this person to testify. This is the same thing.

    Anne Archer plays Carol Hunnicut, a woman who witnessed the mafia slaying of her blind date (of all things), Michael Tarlow, which, unfortunately, is a very brief part played by the excellent, J.T. Walsh. As a defense lawyer for mob boss, Leo Watts (Harris Yulin), Tarlow was playing with fire when he decided to circumvent some of Watt's money to pay for his own endeavors. And Watts figured it out before Michael Tarlow could repay him. In the boss's eyes, Tarlow's crimes are tantamount to execution. And that's exactly what happens.

    This is unfortunate for Carol Hunnicut who witnessed the shooting. Some Los Angeles Deputies get information that Carol was in the apartment and that she witnessed the crime. Now, they have to convince her to testify. Carol is no idiot of course. From the night she saw the shooting and realized that she could be next, she covered up her tracks, and absconded to a Canadian ranch to hide out. She broke ties with her young son and husband because she knew that they, too, would be in danger. And despite the urgings of Robert Caufield (Gene Hackmen), who is to be her Deputy escort on the Canadian train that is to return her to Los Angeles, Carol doesn't want to testify. Aside from a reluctant witness, Robert Caufield has to deal with crooked cops in his own department and two hitmen on the very train they are traveling, but he is nonetheless honorably determined to save Carol.

    Despite the typical story of a witness trying to escape the grips of unrelentless mafia hitmen, it is an entertaining story nonetheless. Anne Archer's character is not stupid, she's quite aware of the risks that lie ahead, and doubts whether one Deputy (Hackman) is enough to save her. And despite the tired finales of fights between antogonist and protagonist while on top of a train, there are some good action and thriller ploys here and there that make it an entertaining story. I think the lead characters, Hunnicut and Caufield, add something good to the movie.
  • The stage curtains open ...

    "Narrow Margin" is a very satisfying thriller, Hitchcockian in style, by director Peter Hyams. Fresh off of the movie, "The Presidio", Hyams teams up with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer, both accomplished actors and more than up to the task in this film.

    When Carol Hunnicut (Archer) witnesses the murder of a man she had only met earlier that evening, she soon finds herself running for her life with the killer's hitmen hot on her trail. The pursuit leads us to an isolated cabin in the woods of Canada where she is hiding out, and then aboard a train that is miles from anywhere. Caught up in the middle is Robert Caulfield (Hackman), a Deputy D.A. as he tries his best to protect her from being found and eliminated while they are aboard the train. It's a tense ride through the Canadian wild as the film reaches its climactic finish.

    This was a fun piece of early 90's thriller film noir with solid performances by all the actors involved - especially on the part of Hackman and Archer. Hackman really didn't have a lot to work with, but he makes the most of it. The same with Anne Archer. The screenplay was rather weak, but they both turned it up a notch to make this a film worth watching. The scenery and cinematography was very well done, though there is (in parts) the use of model trains ... but even so, it doesn't detract from the overall story. The action was well done, and the tension was appropriate to the plot.

    I would recommend this one. It will keep your attention and keep you entertained throughout with a satisfying ending. Not one of Hackman's best, but pretty good.
  • 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.
  • Peter Hyams directing masterpiece besides his other masterpiece called "Capricorn One".Both represent the pinnacle of succes of his entire carreer. Gotta give this a try. Based on the rko picture "The narrow margin". 2 assasins want to kill a witness before she is about to testify in court. Gene Hackman is there to protect her while they are on a train from Canada to the US court. Will they survive the train ride ?

    Anne Archer leading actress, best performance of her entire carreer. Gene Hackman maybe isnt known very well anymore by the younger audience, but this guy was one of the very best american actors of the seventies, eighties AND nineties. Seeing is believing, you can judge for yourself. All the actors act true to life. In a serious thriller like this, realism is SO important. It's all about the details of acting and dialogue that make this thriller rise far above all other mediocre suspense stories. "Narrow Margin" is a classic that has stood the test of time. Almost 30 years old, and from beginning to end it still mesmirizes me, even after having seen it over 15 times...

    Terrific stunts on the train, no cgi stuff. It is NOT a 100% straight action thriller by the way. It is mostly a suspense thriller, with lots of witty and true to life dialogue. But the few stunts that are done are good old fashioned true to life. When you see a man hanging on the side of a speeding train, then it is actually REALLY just that. Truly impressive to see the actors themselves walking on the roof of a speeding train.

    Finally I wanna applaud the music score! The suspenseful gorgeous soundtrack is just do die for. Shreek and eery thin string arrangements, that conjure up so much eery tension. Few films nowadays get a soundtrack in which every scene has its dedicated score.

    This movie may look like just an ordinary thriller, but lots of attention for detail went into the making of Peter Hyams masterpiece.Therefore it is especially recommended for those who can appreciate the finer qualities of movies with regard to acting and dialogue. (Lesser suited for those who long for shock effects or speedy action scenes.)

    You gotta give this a try. It is a rock solid suspense thriller. They dont get made like this anymore.
An error has occured. Please try again.