Story: Carol (Anne Archer) has just had the worst blind date of her life, to say the least. Before she could get even get to know her potential beau, he was murdered by powerful crime boss. She even witnessed the hit, but she decides to just lay low and not call on the authorities. While she would like to cooperate, she knows the mafia has a lot of power and she doesn’t believe that law enforcement could protect her. Despite her efforts to stay out of sight, she is tracked down by District Attorney Robert Caufield (Gene Hackman), who is determined to use her testimony to deliver justice. While he tries to convince her that she can trust him and his office can protect her, he soon learns corruption runs deep and informants from within his own office are informing the mafia of his plans. Now Carol has little choice but to stay with Caufield, but can he protect her from the mob’s long reach or will she be silenced before she reaches the stand?

Entertainment Value: Narrow Margin has wound up on the wrong side of critics pretty often, but I find it to be a fun, fairly well made thriller overall. I know suspension of disbelief is required often here, as some poor decisions are made to further the plot, but isn’t that nearly always the case in these type of thrillers? If the detectives can wrap up in the case in efficient, effective fashion, these stories wouldn’t have much to offer. So I can overlook the logic gaps, given that they’re nearly inevitable in most films and here, we have Gene Hackman to help distract us. I think the pace is reasonable but the movie is a little long, though I was never bored in the least here. The final act was terrific and while implausible, offers some great climatic thrills and even some solid action sequences. So no, Narrow Margin doesn’t have a bulletproof script, but the performances are good and in general, I think was a solid picture.

Gene Hackman does indeed make any movie better and that is certainly true in Narrow Margin, as his presence adds some credibility and polish the film sorely needed. Hackman is kind of an action star at times here, which was fun to watch and as always, he rose to the challenges of the role. He spends a lot of the film’s duration being chased, by helicopter, jeep, and of course, on foot and train, all of which are welcome inclusions. I wouldn’t rank this with Hackman’s best by any means, but he performs well and definitely elevates the material. He takes it all seriously and delivers with his usual skillful turn, so to me, he makes this one worth a recommendation. I was also happy to see J.T. Walsh and M. Emmet Walsh here, as even in smaller roles, both shine and add a lot to the production. The cast also includes Anne Archer, Susan Hogan, and Barbara Russell.

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