SYNOPSIS: Princeton grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake), believing heís been swindled, travels to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Richie is seduced by Blockís promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him.
REVIEW: LI find it a bit difficult to comprehend how this script by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who brought us the 2009 Solitary Man and Oceans 13 (2007), combined with talent such as Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlakeís, could turn out to be so dry. Their mere presence would suggest a somewhat exceptional production here. Unfortunately, it turns out to be more of a variation on the 2008 flick, Twenty-one, but nowhere as good. I think that the overriding problem with it being directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer, 2011) is that it lacks a real pulse, a throb of excitement that pulls you into this crazy, unsavory world and will accept no resistance. It slowly fizzles out while Furman fills the screen with luxurious accommodations, cool cars, awesome boats, private jets and parties loaded with scantily clad women. It simply has no real interesting undercurrent, no intoxicating hook used to snare the audience along for the crazy ride with Timberlakeís character, Richie. The film treads along wearily from one plot point to the next until itís less than exciting, dull ending. Thereís no tension, no real suspense or even one impressive action scene. And as if the direction and storyline wasnít enough of a letdown, casting includes another British diva-wannabe Gemma Arterton (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, 2013). She basically provided little more than any regular unknown Hollywood actress would. And unfortunately, I canít even refer to her as eye-candy in this flick. What huge disappointment from such a cast and talent.
Throughout the ninety-one minute playtime, and despite the huge letdown with this flick, Timberlake is able to show how far he has come along as a musician-turned actor. His talent really lit up the screen and I would go as far as to say that itís probably some of his best work to date. However, please donít misunderstand what Iím trying to convey here. He simply did some of his best acting under some of the worst storytelling, one can imagine in a film. I canít imagine what would draw him to this script, other than the shining credentials of the cast. One would think that after the 2011 misfire In Time, heíd at least read the script before saying yes. As far as the other big name celebrity goes, Affleck fares pretty good here and he plays the obnoxious caddish jerk pretty well and is able to poke a couple of the best lines of the movie in here and there.
Overall, Runner Runner sounds more exciting than it actually is because of the plot, casting and marketing, but it is certainly not worth more than just a simple DVD rental. The movie is a three out of five star movie at best and did deliver on some quality acting and exotics locale sceneries.
By Movi-Man Stan
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