2 October 2013 | TheSquiss
So bland they had to name it twice!
I was sorely tempted to write a single word review of Runner Runner: Pointless!
But I'll resist and expand slightly.
The trailer strongly suggests an intelligent, exciting thriller of crime and intrigue with A-list stars, action, drama, plenty of danger and a soupçon of violence. The realty of Runner Runner is somewhat blander.
Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a Princeton student with moderate financial worries, who supports himself through online gambling. When he risks everything (except the price of his airline ticket to Costa Rica, clearly) on a game and loses, he discovers he has been swindled and heads south to confront the man behind the poker company and scam, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block is so impressed with Furst's balls that he offers him a job with eight-figure returns. With the chance to join the super rich, all the pleasures it encompasses and, predictably, a beautiful woman, Rebecca (Gemma Arterton), who equally predictably is Block's girlfriend, Furst's life couldn't be any better. Then FBI agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie) interferes.
The ingredients are there but it just doesn't work. The characters are half-written shadows of people about whom we don't care. There is no depth, detail or intrigue to inspire us to invest our attention and, though we try to second guess the plot and look for the twists and double crosses lurking in the background, it transpires there are none to speak of and what we see is the sum total of it.
Timberlake is on something of a downward trajectory after the superb The Social Network. Neither Bad Teacher nor Trouble with the Curve ignited and his turn in Runner Runner, though adequate, does nothing to persuade us he's an A-lister in Hollywoodland.
Affleck, however, was ridding high with the supreme success of Argo and the promise of more box office clout with the forthcoming Gone Girl and Batman vs. Superman. Runner Runner isn't going to damage his career but it certainly isn't going to boost it.
Meanwhile, there are times when Gemma Arterton frequently forgets to act (and can't pronounce Antigua) and Mackie is lumbered with a role that diminishes even the 'heights' of Pain and Gain.
Somebody really needs to shake director Brad Furman, turn him around and point him in the direction of a sequel to his fine The Lincoln Lawyer.
Runner Runner isn't a bad film. It's just a bland, boring, forgettable, dull thud with no echo.
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