Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.
The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson's life post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train in to work in New York, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and child. As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses down -- Megan and Scott Hipwell. She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. She has only a feeling: something bad happened. Then come the TV reports: Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes invested in the case and trying to find out what happened to Megan, where she is, and what exactly she herself was up to that same night Megan went missing.
The book is a terrific and engrossing read, with a lot of tension and suspense, a clear timeline and while the characters are unpleasant you understand why they are.
In comparison 'The Girl on the Train' is down there among the most underwhelming book-to-film adaptations, with everything that made the book so good being completely lost in translation in the film. However it also is a failure on its own terms as an overall film, one doesn't even need to have read the book or have knowledge of it to still consider 'The Girl on the Train' a disappointment. If anybody likes the film, that's absolutely fine and good for them, as a huge mystery-thriller fan this was one of the year's biggest letdowns while not quite being bad enough to be one of the year's worst.
Comparisons to 'Gone Girl', which has a similar tone and a couple of similar themes, and almost universally negatively is understandable and inevitable. Will try and keep the comparison brief, to me 'Gone Girl' is the vastly superior film, actually being a good, no great, film. It isn't perfect, faltering at the end with a conclusion that feels abrupt and illogical, but it's better made and directed (the direction was one of the best things about that film, while the direction here dooms this film), the "Cool Girl" monologue alone is much better than any of the dialogue in this film, that had tension, suspense, emotion and delicious black but subtle humour and Rosamund Pike's performance is one of that year's best performances and in the top end of the best Oscar-nominated performances of this decade.
What saves 'The Girl on the Train' from crashing and burning completely is the acting, which is terrific on the whole. The women do fare better than the men, though the men, with Justin Theroux being the most believable, are no slouches either. Emily Blunt's lead performance in particular is sensational. The exceptions though are Rebecca Ferguson, who looks lost with a character completely stripped of what made her interesting before, and Edgar Ramirez who comes over as annoying. Danny Elfman's score is one of his more understated and memorable ones in recent years, not his best work by any stretch but tonally it fits very well, being soothing yet unsettling.
However, Tate Taylor as director is clearly ill at ease with the dark material, because throughout it's stiff, indifferent and far too much of one mood. The story is a complete mess, with no tension or suspense whatsoever and plot twists that are introduced abruptly and are executed confusingly, even incomprehensibly, due to the lack of a clear time line and with little surprises. The pace really drags on constantly so the film is constantly as dull as dishwater and there is an overload of sex scenes that are also tasteless as well as being melodramatic with the subtlety of an axe. In the end, one doesn't care how it ends and the ending or the revelation of the culprit are not done particularly well. The culprit's identity is not that shocking and is revealed too early, and then the film meanders on for another half an hour when the film could easily have ended at the revelation.
Another huge let-down is the very soap-opera-ish, underwritten and very half-baked script, that doesn't do anything to develop the characters, who are nasty without explanation or reason to be so it makes them empty and very difficult to relate to their situations. The production design is good but wasted by the very made for TV way the film is shot and edited. Particularly bad is the haphazard editing.
Overall, doesn't completely crash and burn due to the acting (especially Blunt) and the score but derails very quickly and is a train-wreck on the whole. 3/10 Bethany Cox
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