Not a Win for Garano
Whilst I am not a big reader I do know that author Patricia Cornwell has written some seriously popular books. As such whilst I had not read Patricia Cornwell's "At Risk" I was expecting a movie based on Cornwell's story to be half decent even a made for TV movie because good writing and a good story should shine through. I was wrong and I can only imagine that Cornwell's novel is seriously superior to "At Risk" the movie because it is not good, okay I will say it, it is bad. From the opening credits which make it feel like a TV series to the separate stories, plus the unbelievably cheesy montage of shots of the main character Win Garano it just doesn't work and at times is painful to watch.
District Attorney Monique Lamont (Andie MacDowell - Tara Road) is running for Governor and as part of her campaign she wants detective Win Garano (Daniel Sunjata - The Devil Wears Prada) to solve an old case to deliver on her promise that even criminals who thought they got away with things will et what's coming to them. But Garano immediately discovers that someone doesn't want him snooping around and someone also wants Lamont dead. So with his partner Det. Sykes (Annabeth Gish - Life on Liberty Street) investigating the old murder case Win tries to get to the bottom of who is trying to kill Lamont as well as who is threatening his Nana (Diahann Carroll) at the same time.
"At Risk" is a movie full of problems and they start immediately with a strange series of scenes which feature some form of witchcraft style magic and a murder. It is confusing and you expect for these opening scenes to be of importance later on, spoiler alert they're not, they really have little point other than introducing us to the character of Win Garano. And then we get the flashy opening credits which feel like they are part of a TV show, sort of a mix of "CSI" meets "24" and it really feels very wrong causing you to wonder whether "At Risk" was being made as a pilot in the hope to then launch a TV series off of it.
But the problems continue because quite simply there is too much going on as first we have lawyer Monique Lamont forcing Win into investigating an old case as part of her campaign to become Governor. This leads to a bit of a separate story as he asks his colleague Det. Sykes to do the leg work whilst he then finds himself involved in the case of someone trying to kill Lamont. We can then add to the mix that someone doesn't want the old case investigated and Win receiving threats to his Nana who raised him. It's too much and that barely skims the surface as there are further subplots, relationships and other things going on which makes a movie which is 90 minutes both crowded and disjointed. So disjointed that for the most Annabel Gish as Det. Sykes is in another movie only linking to this by the calls she makes to Win.
Along the way we get more bad stuff going on especially with the character of Win being made out to be a heart breaker with several women fancying him and anyone who looks at him falling for him. This is so unbelievably cheesy and it gets worse as we get a montage of actor Daniel Sunjata looking hunky, riding his bike, training in the gym and looking thoughtfully into nowhere, if it doesn't make you laugh it will make you scream it is that bad.
And then of course we get the answers, we learn not only who is trying to kill Lamont but who committed the murder many years ago and the connection. And sadly after a movie which slowly builds up each of these cases, serving up characters and red herrings to make it a guessing game all of a sudden things become clear. That wouldn't be so bad if we weren't then spoon fed the whole thing as Win travels in a car with Det. Sykes, one of the rare scenes they are together, as he explains what he is sure has happened and who did what to who and why leaving us wondering how he managed to work all of that out.
Now the most disappointing thing about "At Risk" is that Annabel Gish ends up in her own movie as she delivers the best performance as Det. Sykes and really could have helped make the movie so much better if she had had more to do. As it is "At Risk" focuses on Daniel Sunjata as Win Garano and sadly the script does him few favours with it almost seeming like he's been cast because he is handsome. And to be honest it is not a good performance from Sunjata but then the rest of the cast which includes Diahann Carroll, Andie MacDowell and Ashley Williams don't really impress either.
In a way if the producers had turned "At Risk" into a 2 or 3 night mini series it would have been so much better. Not only would it have been able to make the connections between the cases more reasonable but also make the peripheral characters such as Ashley Williams as Stump easier to understand, yes she is called Stump! Plus the whole forensic side of things with old clothes being examined could have been expanded on a lot more as what we get is absolutely minimal. In fact the movie is perfectly styled to be a TV mini series with some creative visuals but trying to cram everything in to 90 minutes doesn't work.
What this all boils down to is that "At Risk" is not a good movie and suffers from countless issues from trying to do too much to a truly terrible montage sequence.