Paula Hawkins’ best-selling thriller is one of those airport-newsstand page-turners that should actually work better in the form of a big dumb Hollywood adaptation; instead, the movie version can’t even manage the book’s simple pleasures. Emily Blunt plays Rachel, an emotionally unsteady alcoholic unable to leave her ex-husband (Justin Theroux) and his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) alone. She becomes obsessed with a seemingly-perfect couple (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans) she sees regularly from her commuter train—and then gets caught up in the case when the woman disappears. The book offered a few satisfying swipes at gender roles, but mostly found its niche as a plot machine built on its twisty, multiple-POV narrative structure. Director Tate Taylor (The Help) tries to duplicate that vibe, but is stuck with script bogged down in narrated exposition while offering a plodding pace that never builds any genuine suspense. Only Blunt—who’s physically miscast, but solid at conveying a woman with an utterly shattered sense of self-worth—offers much of a reason to stick around and figure out whodunit, and not even that much for anyone who already knows because they read the book.
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