Sunday, October 5, 2014

Runner Runner

Runner Runner by Brad Furman
All bluff
On Friday night I saw Runner Runner (2013), directed by Brad Furman, whom you might or might not know from The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) with Matthew McConaughey. I remember having seen the trailer at some point, but I guess it hadn't stuck, perhaps because I never saw a review for the crime drama or even had a friend talk it up to me. Now, I'm the first to acknowledge the many skills of Justin Timberlake, and I think he's definitely a solid actor, but he's not leading man material. In Time had a cool concept behind it, but I had a feeling that Runner Runner, too, was just a bunch of empty calories.

Richie (Timberlake) is an enterprising student at Princeton who does a decent amount of online gambling to pay for his tuition. At one point he is cheated and loses everything on a big game, opting to forego going to the police and deciding instead to go to Costa Rica and confront Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), who runs the biggest empire of online gambling websites in the world. Block offers Richie a refund and, impressed with his statistics, a lucrative 7-figure job. As Richie develops a romantic relationship with Block's ex-lover Rebecca (Hansel & Gretel actress Gemma Arterton), things start to get shady.

Remember the empty calories I mentioned earlier?

Yup, turns out I was right.

Sure, the cinematography is glossy and beautiful and has a nice pace to it, and Anthony Mackie (who is great in anything!) makes an awesome appearance as rugged FBI agent Shavers, but the story and dialogue is banal at best. I would have loved some insight into the world of online gambling and how offshore companies factor in, but what Furman delivers is an unremarkable B-movie that can only just pass for watchable. Runner Runner contains no rough edges or fresh ideas, but it does have a plot that you can see coming from miles away and of course plenty of cliché subplots that add nothing to the story. 

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