The Girl On The Train
Much of the first act is smothered in Emily Blunt's voiceover, explaining who her character is and what she's looking at from her vantage point on her daily slog to and from Manhattan, and it's a fair indication that the film is destined to go off the rails. It might be an old-fashioned point of view but I like films to show, not tell, and lengthy voiceovers are almost always a signal that somebody, somewhere, doesn't have the artistic chops to craft a truly cinematic experience. The fact that the voiceovers disappear once they've set the scene, returning only for a cringe-inducing sign-off, just drives the point home.
The Girl On The Balcony
Flashbacks - along with voiceovers - are another dangerous filmmaking tool, and Taylor wields them like a child with a chainsaw, hacking his story to bits and leaving you to piece together the tattered remains. Now I don't mind the odd bit of deliberate misdirection and cinematic sleight-of-hand that flashbacks can provide (Christopher Nolan's Memento and The Prestige took the device to new and thus-far unparalleled heights), but here they just come across as unnecessary. One notably egregious example occurs during The Girl On The Train's climax, pointlessly depicting at length (and in dubious taste) events we've already had explained to us. There's a high-profile film out soon that uses flashbacks with startling ingenuity, and it shunts Wilson and Taylor's film into the sidings; one can only hope that they watch it and think long and hard about what they've done.
The Girl On The Front Lawn
Tate Taylor's approach and visuals suggest a man who's watched Gone Girl quite a lot and thought, well, that worked, let's do that. But in attempting to mimic David Fincher, he's merely highlighted the difference between a director who truly understands the potential of cinema and a journeyman lumbered with a creaky script. Roughly ten percent of The Girl On The Train is made up of things happening, while the remaining ninety percent consists of people telling other people about things that happened, and frankly it's a waste of film. If you want someone to relay the story's events to you just read the book, because on this evidence, cinema is entirely the wrong platform.