Movie Review – Runner Runner (2013)

Runner Runner, 2013.

Directed by Brad Furman.
Starring Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Michael Esper and Oliver Cooper.

Runner Runner Poster


SYNOPSIS:

When a poor college student who cracks an online poker game goes bust, he arranges a face-to-face with the man he thinks cheated him, a sly offshore entrepreneur.

Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck in Runner Runner

Around about the half way mark of Runner Runner, I glanced toward the clock. What I was sadly met with was the daunting concept that it had been just 45 minutes. We find Justin Timberlake, unconvincingly, playing a student who having been cheated of his college fund during a poker game makes his way to Costa Rica to confront Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). It is this that develops the films largest problem. What should have been a complex and intelligent thriller instead relies on 92 minutes of dull and tedious exposition that results in an entirely unsatisfying finale.

It isn’t that Runner Runner is a terrible thriller, it’s perfectly enjoyable, with a series of decent performances. Ben Affleck chews the scenery with such glee and Timberlake, although not entirely showing what we were promised in The Social Network, seems to be enjoying himself. Sadly, in a similar vein to many Hollywood thrillers, is simply eye candy, in a misogynistic role that could be played by any vaguely attractive female actress. Even Anthony Mackie, a young, prolific actor is given a bit role in a year in which he seems to be moulding into a leading man. One can assume that this lies in the hands of the Hollywood executives, taking full advantage of Affleck’s reveal as Batman.

Brad Furman is a director with a decent eye for a gripping thriller. His most recent picture, The Lincoln Lawyer, which arguably single handedly resurrected Matthew McConaughey’s career, was a tough, gripping and complex thriller. This promise has all but disappeared in Runner Runner. There are no moments of flair, or set pieces that glisten with blood, sweat and tears; instead, each set piece simply plods along, always taking the easy route.

For a film about corruption and money laundering, there’s a quite in preside lack of corruption and money laundering. One could argue the Social Network argument, “it’s a film about relationships, not *insert topic here*. Runner Runner is almost entirely lacking in intelligence or any interest in its topic. What we are handed is a hackneyed attempt at a gripping and intelligent thriller.

Runner Runner suffers from it’s own lack of ambition. It never aims high, just gently knocks at mediocrity with a dull,tedious and incredibly bland script. A forgettable yawn inducing 92 minutes.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Thomas Harris