Thursday, November 12, 2015

Narrow Margin (1990)

Gene Hackman (an Oscar winner for THE FRENCH CONNECTION) and Anne Archer (an Oscar nominee for FATAL ATTRACTION) star in NARROW MARGIN, Carolco’s entertaining, fast-moving remake of Richard Fleischer’s 1952 B-picture that starred Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor.

Peter Hyams, who wrote, directed, and photographed this train picture, sometimes sacrifices logic for thrills, but the well-crafted action sequences, beautiful British Columbian scenery, and breezy performances make everything okay. Hey, who can resist an action thriller set on a train?

Archer is Carol Hunnicut, a divorcee on a blind date with an attorney (J.T. Walsh). While freshening up in the bathroom, she overhears two men (one of whom is an uncredited Harris Yulin) enter her date’s hotel room and shoot him in the head. She runs off and hides away in an isolated cabin way up in the Canadian mountains, but Assistant District Attorney Robert Caulfield (Hackman) finds her and tries to convince her to testify. Before he can, the cabin is shot up by two men in a helicopter, and the chase is on. James B. Sikking (OUTLAND) plays one of the assassins, and he and Hackman play a neat little game of cat-and-mouse: each knows whom the other is, but is playing it cool for appearance’s sake.

Like a lot of Hyams’ films, you’ll have to keep a healthy suspension of disbelief to enjoy NARROW MARGIN. Certainly nitpickers will have a field day with it, particularly Hackman’s amazing athleticism (though it is mentioned Caulfield was a Marine). Stunt work is impressive, and Hyams nails some amazing shots of his stars running, jumping, and grappling outside the train. A lightweight thriller, but one that’s good fun.

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