At Risk (2010)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

As crime mysteries go, this one isn’t horrible. It boasts an intriguing story and some sharp twists but unfortunately, not even all its big-name stars can recue it; for this little known thriller, that is about all it has going for it.

As a Boston detective, working at the beck and call of the city’s tough D.A. is not what Win Garano (Daniel Sunjata) signed on for – and yet, that is exactly what he got. Down South for forensic training, Win is annoyed – to say the least, when he is summoned unceremoniously back to Boston by district attorney Monique Lamont (Andie MacDowell) who has a case for him. She wants Win to solve a nearly forty year old murder case involving a victim who was in her seventies but was a fit and active woman murdered in her own home. Running for governor, Win knows all Monique really wants is a good photo shoot opportunity and he is not about to fall for it; she may be a woman unaccustomed to being told “no,” but that is Win’s final answer. Still after a threat on the life of his grandmother (Diahann Carroll) and a nagging suspicion, his instincts get the better of him and Win agrees only to save Monique’s life that same night following the acquittal of one of the bad guts she desperately wanted to put away.  

Unable to head back to Tennessee – where the murder took place – following the shooting, Win relies on his training partner Detective Sykes (Annabeth Gish) to help him solve the cold case. While she gathers the evidence from the original police reports, Win works on finding out who hired Monique’s would-be killer with the determined Detective Stump (Ashley Williams) – a specialist in forensics and a woman quite annoyed with Win.

For a made-for-television film, I was impressed with this in some spheres and others, terribly disappointed. Overall, the film was merely average; either the writers are inexperienced or were bored with the material. Based on a series of novels much like Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone tele-films, where those are actually sharp, good police dramas, this one seemed more intent on squandering its endless potential. The script is a wreck from a standpoint of pacing and introducing us to all the players. We are so confused by just who everyone is in the set-up of the story that it makes it hard to really decipher all the ins and outs of the movie in the opening frames. Once things get rolling, sure it is easer to “know” the connection everyone has to the other person but that doesn’t erase that it is poorly done and makes us question how Win and Monique really know each other. Do they share more then a professional past – and most importantly, how did he come to work so exclusively for her? Furthermore, I don’t think writers knew how to create a good back-story for their characters considering there really is none. Or perhaps they simply did not care to.

Given what they had to work with, the cast is respectable. MacDowell is a well-known star while Sunjata has been stereotyped in this sort of role a lot lately – One for the Money, Gone – but then, he does the role justice so who cares!? MacDowell is appropriately stubborn – a woman with ice in her veins while Sunjata makes a good law officer. I don’t regret having rented this; it is entertaining for anyone who may like the cast or is looking for a new flick – especially if you like thrillers. The plot of the mystery is actually not bad, it just wasn’t written well. The suspense doesn’t always build as it should to be truly gripping but in all other respects, the story had a lot of misused potential. Without the drive to be a really good movie, I don’t see myself watching this one again. Its bittersweet ending makes it even less appealing while its biggest problem was throwing away all the would-be promise it did have.

(Content concerns: Flashbacks show a woman being bludgeoned to death [conversation reveals she was raped; later it is a talked about how it was done]. Another woman is shot through the heart [some blood] while a man is beaten to death. Another still threatens suicide and two more men are shot to death [one victim dies from a train running him over off-camera]. Monique is threatened in her own home, and is bound and gagged. Win is a supposed to be ladies man who engages in one-time flings [there is some minor innuendo]. Profanity is infrequent but part of the dialogue. This is rated TVPG.) 

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