Narrow Margin

Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, James Sikking

Directed by Peter Hyams
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
September 21, 1990

In this threadbare thriller, the Mob messes up the sex life of divorced publishing executive Carol Hunnicut, played by Anne Archer. On a blind date in Los Angeles with Mob mouthpiece Michael Tarlow (J.T. Walsh), Carol accompanies him to his hotel suite only to watch in horror -- unobserved in an adjoining room -- as a crime lord (Harris Yulin) and his guntoting stooge blow the lawyer away for dipping in the till.

A terrified Carol high-tails it to a remote cabin in the Canadian woods. In hot pursuit is district attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman), who wants Carol to testify and put the scuzzballs away; she'd rather hide. Also tracking her are two Mob hit men, played by James B. Sikking and Nigel Bennett. After Caulfield gets Carol in his custody, they board a train for Vancouver and spend the next twenty hours dodging their executioners.

This is vintage B-movie material, and if you really want to catch a vintage B movie that uses the material effectively, try the original 1952 version of the same name. Peter Hyams, the writer-director-cinematographer of this remake, has a fatter budget, major stars and a bigger train, but his pacing is killingly slack -- just as it was in The Presidio and Running Scared. Hyams seems to like giving audiences plenty of time to suspend disbelief.

Nor is characterization Hyams's strong suit. And his idea of wit is having a little boy on the train say "shit." But even in reduced circumstances, Hackman is a resourceful actor -- he gives this deskbound DA a bookish awkwardness that adds a satisfying edge to his climactic action heroics. He's the only element in Narrow Margin that's not disposable.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    The Pack | 2006

    Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

    More Song Stories entries »