Now, I don't subscribe to the school of thought that Ben Affleck is a bad actor. But it's a thing now, a reflex – Affleck? He can't act. Runner Runner doesn't help my case, however: Casting is everything and while Affleck can do the slick man about town, it's hard to believe he would have no qualms about dousing bad guys in chicken fat and tossing them to crocodiles.
Ditto Timberlake. Decent he may be in supporting roles – Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, The Social Network – but when asked to carry a movie, like In Time, there's nothing in the tank. Maybe it's the role. Maybe it's him. In Runner Runner, it's a bit of both.
Timberlake plays Richie Furst, a one-time Wall Street up-and-comer who retreated to Princeton when the economy went bust, funding his education via a commission for directing campus card sharps to an online gambling site. However, when a night of online gambling relieves him of all his cash, Richie makes for Costa Rica to accuse the site owner Ivan Block (Affleck) of cheating him, a charge that could ruin Block's business. Impressed by this ballsy kid, Affleck offers him a job in this new paradise, which turns out to be a fresh hell...
The problem here is that Furst isn't an interesting character and Timberlake doesn't have it in him to elevate him off the page. When wooing Gemma Arterton or when on the brink of being beaten up on Costa Rican side street, it doesn't have an emotional effect on Timberlake the actor, Furst the character, or us the audience. One scene sees him all a-panic when Mackie's FBI agent threatens him with jail time, but the next scene that threat barely registers in Timberlake's delivery. And his narration on the ins and outs of gambling terminology still sound like gobbledygook to the layman. Affleck fares a little better but comes unstuck when asked to be anything nastier than a suave businessman.
Did I say two problems? Because there are three: it's dull. And I mean duuuuuullllll. Lurching from one plot development to another, there's no flow to the story and Brad Frurman's visuals fail to sell Costa Rica as the 'paradise' the script tells us it is.
Review by Gavin Burke | 10:20 | Wednesday 25th September 2013 | Movie Review
Spot on review. A smarmy unlikeable leading man and a deathly dull execution do not make for a good cinema going experience. You know when you watch a film and think "if a meteorite suddenly crashed into this film and killed everyone, I couldn't care less" - this is one of those films.Posted 19:53 | Mon 30th Sep 2013
You forgot to mention that it's got Gemma Arterton in it, as well. What a blank slate she is when she acts. Is there ever really anything behind her eyes?Posted 16:51 | Tue 1st Oct 2013
It would be great to have more reviews like this. Most reviews say it's good stuff and the story is so interesting, while it's a waste of time. I have never liked Timberlake and anything he was in. Thank you for telling me it's dull.Posted 23:55 | Sun 13th Oct 2013
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