It was inevitable that a movie would be made of the 2015 mega-bestselling Paula Hawkins mystery novel “The Girl on the Train,” but did the movie have to be so morose? A central dictum of any mystery thriller is this: Make your protagonists, especially your villains, worth caring about. “The Girl on the Train,” directed by Tate Taylor from a script by Erin Cressida Wilson, falls down on the job.
Emily Blunt is cast as Rachel Watson, who spends her days commuting aimlessly to and from New York City from Westchester County, where her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), and his glossy new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), live with their new baby. Rachel can’t keep from harassing this couple, whose house lies on the same river route as the house shared by tough-as-nails Scott (Luke Evans) and his even glossier mate, Megan (Haley Bennett). Rachel keeps tabs on all of them, and when a murder is committed, her creepy, boozy voyeurism may hold the key to its solution.
Blunt, who can be quite marvelous in movies, spends most of the film looking haggard and sozzled; the rest of the cast, with the exception of Allison Janney as a police investigator, is dull. The plot twists, such as they are, are garbled and predictable. Since I didn’t much like it either, I probably shouldn’t say that this film is no “Gone Girl.” But I’ll say it anyway. Grade: C (Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity.)