Review: Runner Runner

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Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama. Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Gemma Arterton. Directed by: Brad Furman

Writing a review for Runner Runner took time and serious effort – much like watching the movie itself – because nothing stands out about this film.

Nothing was brilliant, yet nothing was terrible.

It’s one of those that is going to fade into darkness in approximately 2 months, and even the usually fantastic Ben Affleck can’t save the movie now.

Justin Timberlake is Richie, a Princeton college student who decides to quit his studies after being offered a job working for multi-billionaire/F.B.I’s Most Wanted, Ivan Block (Affleck), on his gambling website Midnight Black – a stupid decision that traps him in a world of crazy parties, free alcohol, swanky yachts, and eventually, criminality.

Justin is good in this, but we knew he was good at playing the preppy college type since he excelled in David Fincher’s Social Network. I thought Runner Runner would be the role that really wowed the crowd but it’s nothing we haven’t seen.

As for Affleck… this man could never do any wrong, however Runner Runner doesn’t showcase his true abilities at all. Ivan Block is smart and manipulative, and by the end credits I really did hate Affleck’s character (something I never thought possible), but the whole thing was just limp. The action scenes, the fabulous parties, the amazing suits and kickass lifestyle… nothing really seems to make an impact, and the audience may find themselves watching the clock and secretly hoping the film would end. It’s disappointing, because the movie has all the potential to be amazing, with an A-List cast and the talented Brad Lurman (The Lincoln Lawyer) as its director, so it’s hard to put a finger on what really doesn’t work in Runner Runner.

Gemma Arterton’s character as Affleck’s bit-on-the-side/Timberlake’s secret alliance is overly irrelevant and definitely gives the impression that she is included in the film simply to add sexiness and to break up the all-male cast. She may look good as the sassy and beautiful Rebecca but the acting is dull and the character – like the whole film – is dull.

The best thing about Runner Runner could be the impressively witty and smart script (whether this is delivered correctly or not) written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, but even then, it is heavily laden with gambling puns and really starts to irritate after a while. Anthony Mackie’s role as F.B.I Agent Shavers is therefore the best part of Runner Runner. Sadly he does not get enough screen time, but his flawless acting and quick reactions are completely on point.

A good film should stick in your mind for a long time, and Runner Runner fails to do that. Yet, it is still worth going to see. For an hour and a half it does truly entertain the audience a little bit, however for a movie of such complexity and with a highly talented cast, it should really do more than just entertain.