Runner, Runner Review
Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is guy who is paying for his Master's Degree through online gambling. He's done so much gambling online that he is receiving pressure from his college dean. When he looses his entire savings on a particular bad evening, he travels to Costa Rica for some face-to-face time with Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block runs the biggest online gambling empire in the world, and one of his sites happens to be the one Furst used. Furst is convinced he's been cheated, and when he brings this up to Block, not only does Block believe him and give his money back, he gives Furst a job. Slowly, Furst is pulled into the lucrative business of online gambling.
Sounds interesting right? Sounds like a nice, intense thriller I am guessing, correct? Well, despite the plot, exotic location and the barrel of talent involved, "Runner, Runner" is pretty boring. This is another case of a film which feels like a series of events and its over. Except "Runner, Runner" staples a cliche ending to the tail of itself. There is no real resolution, there is very little character development as most of the action is explained in a voice-over. The filmmakers refused to create any real tension out the story they tried to tell. That's just frustrating and disappointing all around.
The film is features nothing but unlikable, crummy people. What made me laugh about the film is that it tries to create a hero out of Furst. When Furst assembles himself into Block's world, he quickly turns into a scumbag, and the sudden reversal to hero at the end of the movie is bewildering and unbelievable. Furst is a character written with no moral compass, no inner-struggle, no real motivation besides getting to Block. The rest of the film, he's just okay to be Block's culprit and that rang untrue to me. It doesn't help that Timberlake really isn't inspiring in the role. Besides Timberlake's run on SNL, I don't get much from him. Affleck as Block is equally unbalanced. If Affleck is really going to play Batman in a couple of years, he needs to find a way to become more menacing. His villain is a walking cliche, and when he tries to stand tough, he just comes off like a cartoon. Anthony Mackie plays FBI Agent Shavers, a character who is willing to bend laws to nail Block. How he's able to do so much in a country where he has no jurisdiction is never explained. Once again to my amazement, Mackie is somehow a blank in the role. Don't even let me get into Gemma Arterton, whose been a blank in literally every film she's been in. Apparently, she was only hired to walk around and look pretty here.
The film has some nice cinematography and good editing, but that is all extra. I could not get over how boring the film was. I could not get over how anti-climatic the ending was. The movie felt like the actors performances in this movie, it felt blank. I didn't buy anything about it, and that's what was most frustrating about the whole thing.
FINAL GRADE: C-