Well what do you know?!
Last week, I was sorely disappointed by "At Risk," the first Lifetime movie based on a Patricia Cornwell novel, starring Andie MacDowell and Daniel Sunjata. In a word, it was tedious.
So it was with trepidation that I screened "The Front" (9 tonight), the second Lifetime movie from Cornwell's work with the same characters.
But instead of being bored again, I was pleasantly surprised. This one kind of works.
The movie is a continuation of these characters' journeys, but takes place perhaps a few months later. MacDowell's D.A. character Monique 'Money' Lamont is still aggressive and aggressively campaigning, so she gets Win Garano (Sunjata) to open up another cold case, one she hopes will solve a murder she believes is linked to the Boston Strangler.
Money, meanwhile, is also still playing hardball behind the scenes to advance politically, and helping her is a young Harvard student journalist. Let's just say he brings out Money's cougar tendencies. Win's challenge is working with Stump (Ashley Williams), a one-legged detective who detests him.
This movie works better than "At Risk" because it has the character development that movie was missing. I'm not saying the script is layered (sometimes it's ridiculous) but we do get a window into why Win is kind of a jerk. He gets a little vulnerable, which makes him more plausible as an object of desire (not that it's implausible that women would fall for a guy as pretty as Sunjata who was also a jerk), and after he gets a love interest, he lightens up considerably. (Although the lovebirds have zero chemistry.) But Sunjata still seems wooden and I'm pretty sure he's a better actor than he seems in this film.
MacDowell's part gets more delicious too, and the killer in the piece is pretty chilling.
I didn't have that 'when is this going to be over feeling' while watching "The Front." It wasn't half bad, one of those movies that's not exactly riveting, but one you that will keep you watching on a lazy night or afternoon.
In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing what they'd do with a third Garano/Money movie. It can only get better. Right?