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Billy Dee Williams,
Peter Berg goes to work for bad guy Terence Stamp and becomes entangled with his woman, Michelle Johnson
"Genuine Risk" is a solid and enjoyable neo-noir. I recommend it to all noir fans.
The hero is a small time hood (Peter Berg) who eschews violence, a likable young man who likes to play the ponies. Being broke a lot and wanting the easy way, he cuts corners. He doesn't particularly look, act or talk like a criminal or a movie-criminal type, even though he's done time. He's more like a college dropout who liked to gamble and drink and drifted into crime to make some easy money. Berg is kind of a downbeat character who is put upon by others, finding himself in hot water. But he's not so inept as to be a schnook. We can still care about him.
Berg has hooked up with Michael Harris, an enforcer who works closely with and for his boss, Terence Stamp. Harris is not a man who likes violence for its own sake, but for his line of work he will hurt and kill if it comes to that, and he knows a number of ways to kill people. He has repressed anger that boils over at times; but often he is sociable and likable. It's just that his survival comes first and you cannot always trust him as a partner. He's worked with Berg before and likes him. Harris does a fine job livening up this movie.
Harris recruits Berg to work for Stamp. Now, Stamp is a scary character. The first sequence in the movie shows us that for sure. When he interviews Berg, we see it again. Stamp can play this kind of part in his sleep. He began doing it with "The Collector", way back in 1965. He steals every Superman scene as General Zod. He's bad and still engages our sympathy in the excellent neo-noir "The Limey" (1999), and he's consistently interesting in "The Hit" (1984), an existential noir. Stamp's presence adds a great deal to the movie.
As in many noirs, cops are nowhere to be seen, which is just the way we noir fans often like it. Also, as in many noirs, there's a woman in the mix whose role is ambiguous, and that's Michelle Johnson.
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