7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Narrow Margin Review

It’s time to take a look at an old train film. Just about the whole film takes place on the train with the detective matching wits against the mobsters. It’s a very short film though, only being a little over an hour so it certainly never drags and the pacing stays rather quick the whole time. It’s a fun little detective film. It may not have the same amount of depth as some other retro thrillers, but this is a good film to add to your collection.

Walter Brown is a good detective/police agent who has been tasked with the job of safely getting the wife of a gangster to a jury so she can release a list of names of other wanted associates. The gangsters don’t want this to happen so they’ve sent some men to eliminate her. The advantage that Walter has is that the villains do not know how the wife looks. Unfortunately, Walter’s partner was an amateur at the protecting business and when escorting the lady out of her apartment, he walked down the dark stairs with his eyes closed and enjoying his smoke. He did not notice anything until an innocent bystander happened to show up and the partner quickly died. With him out of the way, Walter must now keep the wife safe on his own. Can he handle this? At least 2 gangsters are already on board the train and there may be more of them afoot.

The situation grows more complicated as the gangsters start to suspect that another lady on board the train is actually the wife thanks to Walter stopping to talk to this lady quite a few times. Can Walter complete his mission and also ensure that no innocents are harmed either? Looks like it is time for a fight! As Walter says at the beginning of the movie, this mission wasn’t very well thought out on the cops side. Surely there is a more secure way of protecting this witness than putting her on board a crowded train with other gangsters right? Maybe a drive with a police escort or something like that. It would take longer, but it would also be safer.

As this is an old film with a good writing staff, the script is very good. The characters engage in quite a few mind games and throw out subtle insults whenever necessary. It doesn’t mean that all of the characters are likable though as that aspect is really 50/50, but the film is engaging all the way from start to finish. This is a solid thriller even if there are not a lot of twists and ruffles. It’s simple, but direct.

As hinted at earlier, I thought that Walter’s partner was pretty terrible at his job and supremely overconfident. The way that he went down was pretty embarrassing. Walter would be a good main character, but he ends up panicking and yelling a lot throughout the film. A detective’s always got to keep his cool under duress while this guy seems to take everything personally. Everything tends to work out all right for him, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is great at his job. On the contrary, he leaves his post many times and actually gets his charge killed at one point. Maybe if he spent less time tailing everyone around the train and stopping to chat with the other passengers, he would have had better luck here. Tying up the convict that he did defeat would have surely been a good move as well.

The witness that Walter is protecting loves to talk so get ready for her to keep on insulting everyone. There is a plot twist about her that makes the whole situation a lot worse as well. She refused to play along with Walter’s plan to stay silent so she would turn the music on rather loudly which attracts a lot of attention since officially she can’t let anyone know that she’s on the train. There’s also the fact that she casually opens the door rather easily after hearing a muffled response. Given the plot twist, she should have had her gun at the ready and definitely should have not opened the door. She’s as bad as Walter in that respect.

The villains are fairly generic. They’re around and know how to fight, but in the end they’re simply foot soldiers working for some unseen gangsters. The one who offered Walter a deal surprisingly didn’t get much of a role in the end. One character who actually turned out to be pretty enjoyable was the “Fat Man” I forgot if he got a name by the end, but that’s the term that he kept on using so we may as well roll with it. He’s really invaluable to have on a Train and especially a train with such narrow hallways as this one. Unfortunately, he’s another all talk and no action character so don’t count on him in a fight, but he’s still fun to have and that’s what counts I suppose right?

We also have Ann, who shows up on the train along with her son and his nurse. They’re fine characters I suppose, but they’re really just here to flesh out the cast more than anything else. The secret that Walter tells the kid never even comes into play anyway. They provide a lot of distractions and issues for Walter from his job since the kid seems to think that he’s a robber and Ann keeps reminding Walter to watch out for his nerves. Walter can’t let himself get too attached though because then the person he is guarding could be in danger. Unfortunately, he does forget his priorities a lot although he is faced with a lot of tricky situations. He really needed some backup for this case and it is a little surprising that he wasn’t given any. At least someone right before the train departed right? I can say with confidence that having one more person would have been extremely helpful.

Back to how the case was handled though, the police could have come up with a better plan. Send in two more guys and just make it official that they’re transporting someone. Good luck trying to get past these guys when it’s public knowledge. Also, they should have had security cars following the train once it was confirmed that crooks were following the main guy. The problem is that there was no communication so he was never able to talk to any of the cops. I’d call that a pretty big oversight in whatever the plan was.

Overall, The Narrow Margin was a solid thriller, I definitely recommend checking it out. The plan may have not been the best, but Walter worked with what he got and showed the Police Force that he doesn’t take bribes. He also wins the big fist fight of the film so he proved that when the chips were down he did not need a gun. I have to question the intelligence of the whole cast though in light of the fact that just about everyone left their doors unlocked for the majority of the film. To break the locks, you need to use a gun and that calls attention so the main characters should have definitely kept the rooms locked. Sure, once Walter let the guy in as part of his plan, but how about catching the guy in the act or simply keeping him out. The villains would try breaking in at some point, but Walter would have the edge with his gun at the ready. I definitely would have handled things differently than Walter, but I suppose that’s part of the fun of these thrillers; thinking of the potential ways this could have ended differently.

Overall 7/10

2 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Heist Review

Note that this review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be understood as belonging to this version of the film as a review of the uncut version would likely be more negative.
Time to look at a Heist film, hence the title. This genre can be quite good as we saw in Ocean’s Eleven and I’m confident that the Ant-Man film coming up will be good or decent. Unfortunately, Heist doesn’t live up to its name and it takes the genre way too literally. It plays out like a classic crime film and you can barely even call it a heist by the end. Seriously…the heroes just don’t do anything for most of the film.

The main characters were part of a gang, but they decided to stop robbing stores when their leader was caught on camera as he attempted to escape. Unfortunately for Joe, another mobster wants him to do one more job. It’s not exactly a request and Joe has no money so he can’t escape otherwise. He’ll have to comply, but can he really suceed in this job when he also has to deal with a watchdog on his tail? Not a literal one, but the mobster’s son/nephew/some kind of relative is assigned to watch. Joe doesn’t like this one bit!

Joe may not like that, but it’s safe to say that I don’t like Joe. The film flopped for several reasons, but let’s get into the biggest one right away. The writing. This film has more language than the average horror film and it’s very in your face. The heroes will swear in just about every scene and Joe went on a roll at one point where he would curse in just about every sentence that he spoke. I always found that provocative language is just a sign of bad writing. The writers don’t know how to engage the audience in the scene so they just use course language to get everyone to pay attention. It’s a bold strategy, but one that it always doomed to fail.

The characters also reuse the same words over and over again. “It’s burned Joe” No, it’s not burnt Bob” It’s burnt…burrrrrrrrrnt!” They say the word, burn, and its other variations many times as the film goes on. You’ll eventually start wincing and wondering what’s going on here. No exaggeration, they probably say this at least 20-30 times. It gets old very quickly. The conversations go round and round and round. The film may have had some hope otherwise, but it’s almost literally impossible to be a good film when the writing is this lousy. A by product of this is that every character is instantly unlikable so it’s safe to say that their potential is out the window.

No worries, this film wasn’t about to just make one critical mistake. There’s also a degree of fanservice involved as Joe sends his wife to entice one of the villains. The very thought of Joe sending her off on such a mission already shows you more than a little about his true character. It’s a pretty cheap trick and the villains don’t really buy into it anyway. The scenes with her and the villain are rather unnecessary and the heroes could have tried to trick them in a better way.

Those are really my main two complaints with the film, but they sure deal a lot of damage. Another factor to add in is that the film simply isn’t interesting. There’s barely even a plot as it goes on. Joe will try to trick everyone and keep his money, but the villains won’t let him and that’s really all that happens. There is also a lot of the usual plot hax of course, like a police guard being defeated so easily and the cop actually believing what she heard in a bar. Naturally, these things will happen I suppose. Joe is also given an awful lot of time by himself to paint his hold and hide it in two trucks considering that the villains are on to him….

If I had to pick a character that was at least a little likable or close to it, I would pick Joe’s main assistant. He’s essentially the bouncer and since Joe isn’t the greatest fighter around, the guy protects him. He gets a pretty happy ending and he did good in the big fight scenes. It’s a little hard to imagine how he was able to stay underwater so long without an obvious air pipe sticking out, but we’ve already questioned the film’s writing so let’s not go there…

There are actually some fight scenes, but none of them are very good. They’re simply standard punches and kicks, which won’t be winning the film any brownie points. What it needs to do is look back and reflect on the many things that went wrong so that a potential reboot can be made better. For one thing, serious and heist don’t really go together. If the heist is played too seriously, then there’s a chance that the film will overcompensate by making all of the heroes really unlikable and evil.

We need some kind of plot twist to show that they’re stealing from someone who’s actually crooked. At least they try not to murder any civilians, but it’s only a small start. (That reminds me that it’s hard to believe that they could grab a job at the local coffee shop and drug everyone’s coffee….) Ocean’s Eleven was the perfect example of how to do the genre and this film should have taken some notes. The main characters in Ocean’s Eleven (Some of them anyway) were pretty likable villains. You still do need to call them villains since they are robbing the place, but they’re doing it in a professional manner. These guys lacked professionalism at every corner. Granted, you need good writing to pull off what Ocean’s Eleven did, but you could say the same for just about every film. There’s no real soundtrack so we’ll have to skip that section.

Now, let’s think of how the film could have realistically been improved. 1. Each of the characters is professional and the writing is on par with The Avengers GI Joe. 2. Get rid of the fanservice and the whole plot between the main villain’s relative and heroine. 3. Establish more of an actual plot. We need to know what they’re stealing and how they’re going to do it directly. Not in between all of the burnt comments. That’s not a lot of things, but it would have bumped up the score by at least 3-4 stars. That’s pretty good if you ask me.

Overall, Heist is terrible. It’s the kind of film where you’ll be counting down the minutes until it’s finally over. The ending has one of the main characters smirking, but you’ll be wondering why he’s smirking. One of his friends isn’t around anymore and his wife is gone. He got some money…but that’s hardly going to change things. If you want to see a good heist film, check out Ocean’s Eleven like I’ve been hinting or check out Dragon Ball Z, but be warned that it’s not actually related to the heist genre. Why did I recommend it? Simply because DBZ is pretty awesome. Now, we simply have to wait for the Ant Man film to see how it handles the slippery slope of being a heist film.

Overall 2/10