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Narrow Margin
Narrow Margin
Actors: Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, James Sikking, J.T. Walsh, M. Emmet Walsh
Director: Peter Hyams
Genres: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
R     1998     1hr 37min

Gene Hackman stars as a LA District Attorney attempting to take an unwilling murder witness (Archer) back to the Unites States to testify against a top-level mob boss. Frantically Attempting to escape two deadly hit men se...  more »
     
     

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Movie Details

Actors: Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, James Sikking, J.T. Walsh, M. Emmet Walsh
Director: Peter Hyams
Creators: Peter Hyams, Andrew G. Vajna, Jerry Offsay, Jonathan A. Zimbert, Earl Felton, Jack Leonard, Martin Goldsmith
Genres: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Crime, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/10/1998
Original Release Date: 09/21/1990
Theatrical Release Date: 09/21/1990
Release Year: 1998
Run Time: 1hr 37min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 2
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish
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Movie Reviews

A DEFINITE NAIL BITER...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a terrific thriller with excellent performances by Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, J.T. Walsh, James B. Sikking, M. Emmett Walsh, and Susan Hogan. There are also some terrific action scenes. This film is guaranteed to keep the viewer on the edge of one's seat.The plot is simple. A woman, Carol Hunnicutt (Anne Archer), goes on a blind date with an attorney (J.T. Walsh) with whom a well meaning friend has set her up. He gets a business call that he needs to return, as soon as possible. She accompanies him to his apartment. She excuses herself, while he makes his call, and goes to use the bathroom. In the meantime, he is visited by one of his clients, Leo Watts, and another man. Watts confronts the lawyer with the fact that he knows that the lawyer has gotten himself into a financial hole and has, consequently, stolen a lot of money from him. The lawyer, knowing Watts to be a ruthless mobster, begins to cry. Carol, overhearing the commotion, cautiously opens the door, only to see the other man with Watts execute her blind date.Terror stricken, she sits mute for some time and then disappears to a remote Canadian location, where she is ulimately tracked down by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) and a Los Angeles Police Department Detective, who has accompanied him. They are working on the case involving the death of the attorney, and they believe that she may have some relevant information, as her fingerprints were discovered at the crime scene and traced back to her via an old anti-war protest arrest.Unfortunately, Watts' men also find her, almost simultaneously, and the games begin in earnest with the detective killed in the process. Robert and Carol make a run for it and board a train headed towards Vancouver. Right behind them are the hit men, who also board the same train, hot on their heels. A life or death cat and mouse game commences. What happens on that train will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. This is, without a doubt, a well executed thriller."
An atmospheric thriller quickie
Inspector Gadget | On the trail of Doctor Claw | 09/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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 tightly 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.

Filmed in Panavision the DVD is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby 2.0 soundtrack. Though 5.1 would have been better there is still some surround use. The R2 DVD by Universal also has better cover art than the R1."
Pure Gene.
SCOTT W COOPER | Rochester. United Kingdom | 04/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An otherwise run of the mill thriller is made into something rather special,courtesy of an excellent performance from Gene Hackman.A simple plot outline sees Gene as a District Attorney who takes it upon himself to protect a murder witness (Anne Archer) and escort her to safety,to testify agianst the mobsters responsible.The Couple decide to board on a train,soon to discover that a pair of professional killers are stalking them.Some good Cinematography,great plot twist's and action scenes,and Gene's performance make this a very entertaining film. Artisan have transferred this film to DVD in it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1,which is enhanced for 16x9 T.V.'s.The transfer is very good throughout,edge enhancement is evident,as is the occasional grainy scene,but this never distracts.The sound quality on this DVD is 2.0 Channel Dolby Surround.It is very clear,defined,and has no hissing,drop-out/background noise,or distortion related problems.This disc has only one Theatrical trailer as an extra,plus some production notes and cast and crew information.Overall,because this disc was so cheap,the lack of extras was somewhat inevitable,but, it's a very good film,the picture quality is better than average,so it was well worth the price.A must for any Gene Hackman fan."
MISSED BEING A CLASSIC BY A "NARROW MARGIN" INDEED
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 10/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If it weren't for the rushed ending, this movie'd be listed high up there with LA Confidential and Fugitive in terms of an action packed thriller. And for good reason -- it's lean, crisp, and nail-biting suspense. The original movie, a 1952 noir with the same name, had a stunning Charles McGraw cameo as well, but I am one of those who don't usually drool over B&W prints. This new version has some mild adjustments, e.g., the rail trip that makes the movie is now based entirely on a Canadian train ride. In that, the claustrophobic train interior is contrasted very well with the wide open Canadian wilderness. The cinematography and the screenplay are immaculate. Gene Hackman is riveting. 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 (one of the villians also aboard the same train) in the dining car. What does the movie in, and leaves you with a lame parting shot is the super-quick ending. After the whole breathless action-packed rigmarole of getting a witness to LA, the case indicting a mafia boss happens all too soon to give a fitting closure. But don't let this stop you if you're into suspense films. Great thriller!"