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Kim Johnston Ulrich
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"Genuine Risk" surprised me by remaining very engrossing throughout. Yes, there are lots of clichés, but they didn't bother me. There are some really fun bits as well, and the movie keeps you guessing as to which will be next. It's true that "the girl" gets just about zero character development, rendering her a walking (or should I say slithering?) cliché in both name and substance, but so what? Everyone here is at least somewhat of a cliché. The movie embraces that.
Berg is very well cast in this role, being quite believable as a small-time loser with more heart than brains who gets sucked into things beyond his control. His friend Jack brings a huge dose of life to the story, strutting his way through scene after scene with flamboyant ambiguity. Stamp's Paul is perfect, as we would expect from him. (I guess that could be considered "faint praise", but can it be any crime to be good at something and do it?) Johnson does what she can with the admittedly shallow role she's given, which is to say she looks sexy. Everyone else are minor characters, but each does well with them. The pacing, editing, and directing are all solid.
What I enjoyed perhaps the most here was the sense of reality Berg's character brings to the backdrop of the tapestry of clichés which make up the story. He is a splash of "the common man" across that tapestry, and the contrast creates the tension. He clearly doesn't belong in Paul's world, so we want to see what happens as he gets drawn into it.
Ultimately, I gave this movie an 8, which is probably too high, but for what it is I really enjoyed it a lot. It knows what it's about and it spends its time on exactly that. It's certainly better than its present 4.8 rating, at least for those who enjoy noir -- and if you don't, then shouldn't you pick something else in the first place?
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