Narrow Margin

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"It will take you to the edge of suspense."
  • R
  • 1990
  • 1 hr 37 min
  • 6.6  (10,246)
  • 53

Narrow Margin is a 1990 American thriller film directed by Peter Hyams and starring Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, and James Sikking. The plot centers on a Deputy District Attorney named Carol Hunnicut (Archer) who is tasked with escorting a crucial witness named Mrs. McLean (Nina van Pallandt) to Los Angeles to testify against a notorious mob boss named Leo Watts (Harris Yulin). However, things go awry when the train carrying them is boarded by a group of hitmen who are determined to silence McLean before she can reach the courtroom. Hunnicut must then rely on the help of a reluctant stranger named Jack Starr (Hackman), who happens to be on the same train, to outrun and outsmart their pursuers.

The film's opening sequence is a tense and action-packed chase set in the streets of Vancouver, Canada, where Hunnicut is ambushed by a group of assassins. It sets the tone for the rest of the film and establishes the stakes of the narrative. From thereon, the movie takes place almost entirely on board a train that is hurtling towards Los Angeles with the threat of violence constantly looming over the characters. The claustrophobic setting of the train adds an extra layer of tension and suspense, as the characters must navigate the narrow corridors and tight spaces while avoiding detection by their enemies.

Gene Hackman delivers a typically strong performance as Jack Starr, a gruff and no-nonsense character who initially resents Hunnicut's presence on the train, but eventually comes to admire her courage and determination. Hackman brings a sense of world-weariness to the role, as if Starr is a man who has seen too much violence and is resigned to his fate. Anne Archer is equally impressive as Carol Hunnicut, a woman who is initially out of her depth but quickly proves herself to be resourceful and quick-witted. Archer imbues the character with a steely resolve and a sense of vulnerability that makes her easy to root for. James Sikking is also noteworthy as Sergeant Dominick Benti, a police officer who is tasked with protecting Hunnicut and who provides some much-needed comic relief in the midst of the tension.

The film's action scenes are well-staged and thrilling, with Hyams making excellent use of the cramped quarters of the train to stage some inventive set-pieces. An early scene involving a tussle in a bathroom stall is particularly effective, as is a later sequence where the characters must crawl across the top of the train while being pursued by their enemies. The film also features some stunning cinematography by Hyams himself, who makes excellent use of the Canadian landscape to give the film a sense of scale and scope.

One of the film's strengths is its pared-down script, which relies more on character interactions than elaborate plot twists. The dialogue is crisp and efficient, with the characters trading barbs and insults even in the face of danger. The film also explores some interesting themes regarding the nature of justice and morality, as Hunnicut must grapple with the realization that her own actions may not always be completely ethical. The film's climactic twist is both surprising and thematically resonant, providing a satisfying conclusion to the story.

Overall, Narrow Margin is a well-crafted thriller that benefits from strong performances and tense direction. It's a film that knows exactly what it wants to be and delivers on its promises, providing audiences with a thrilling ride from start to finish.

Narrow Margin is a 1990 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 37 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6 and a MetaScore of 53.

Narrow Margin
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 37 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (10,246)
  • Metascore