Narrow Margin presents a hackneyed story line: A woman witnesses a murder, the perpetrators finger her for a hit, and she goes on the lam. But this film has Gene Hackman. It also has suspense and a speeding train on which Hackman plays Spiderman. As a result, the dimwitted plot -- which unabashedly resorts to wizened clichés and contrivances -- turns into a tolerably decent nail-biter. It all starts when Carol Hunicutt (Anne Archer) witnesses mobsters whacking a hapless sap in a Los Angeles hotel room. To escape their wrath, she holes up in a cabin in the Canadian outback. The pace quickens when a Los Angeles deputy, DA Robert Caulfield (Hackman), tracks down Hunicutt to get her to testify against the killers. Mob helicopter hit men hot on the trail shoot the cabin into a honeycomb, but Caulfield and Hunicutt (who are apparently immortal) escape unscathed and race through the wilds. When all seems lost, Caulfield pulls a Chingachgook: He throws a stone to rustle the bushes and the villains turn tail. All right, original and uplifting the film is not, but after Caulfield and Hunicutt hop a train populated by mob strongarm men and spies (in this film, the mob has more resources than the CIA), the plot takes on an Agatha Christie flavor with a twist of Ian Fleming. It's all good fun. No, the film has no redeeming artistic value and no profound message. But once the action starts, it's hard to stop watching it. Be sure to stick around for the final scene when the hero confronts a tall evildoer on the top of a passenger car as the train approaches a tunnel.
by Mike Cummings review