Believing that he has been swindled, Princeton grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake) goes to Costa Rica to confront online-gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) . Block's promises of immense wealth and power have a seductive effect on Richie, until he learns the shocking truth about his new mentor. When Richie is coerced by the FBI to help bring Block to justice, he faces the biggest gamble of his life: outmaneuvering the two forces closing in on him.
|Cast:||Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Michael Esper, John Heard, Ben Schwartz, Yul Vazquez, Bob Gunton, Oliver Cooper, Christian George|
|Directed by:||Brad Furman|
|Produced by:||Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Arnon Milchan, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher|
FILM REVIEW: RUNNER RUNNER
By Roger Moore
Tribune Newspapers Critic
1 1/2 stars
Whatever his other gifts, Justin Timberlake has a hard time playing ``hard.
Ben Affleck has no hint of sinister about him.
For director Brad Furman, ``The Lincoln Lawyer is looking more and more like a fluke, and even bringing in someone with gambling movie experience - the screenwriter from ``Rounders - didn't help.
So the problems of the Internet gambling thriller ``Runner Runner are many and manifest. A thrill-free thriller with no urgency, scanty wit and limited sex appeal, it plays like just a paycheck for A-list actors who should know better.
Timberlake plays Richie Furst, a Wall Street dropout we meet as he tries to hustle his way to a graduate degree at Princeton. But the online gambling he's using to finance college fails him, and a little number-crunching tells him he's been cheated. Somehow, he scrapes together the cash and the moxie to go to Costa Rica and confront the online gaming kingpin, Ivan Block (Affleck).
Ivan likes that moxie, and next thing you know, Richie's his right-hand man, crunching numbers, recruiting ``affiliates to their Internet empire and making eyes at the boss's babe (Gemma Arterton).
He has ``everything you ever thought you wanted, when you were 13. And then a rules-bending FBI agent (Anthony Mackie, funny) kidnaps him, and we wonder whose loyalty Richie will honor - Ivan's, the feds' or his own.
``Runner Runner is the sort of movie in which the ``hero narrates his tale so thoroughly that there's little mystery as to what's coming.
It's a static picture about a sexy world that robs that world of sex and pizazz with student-film staging and camera blocking. Actors stalk into a shot, hit their marks, make eye contact and recite (weak) lines. (``You forgot the eternal truth. The house always wins.)
A couple of scenes in this choppy, glumly edited picture work, but they involve ``real gambling, not the online kind, which is uncinematic. There's barely enough gambling slang to dress up the script. Timberlake's best moments come in scenes with Richie's apple-doesn't-fall-far-from-the-tree dad (John Heard), who is the very picture of addiction.
As for Affleck's Ivan, you never believe a word he says, not a gesture. This is the sort of acting he did in the sort of movies he made before he started writing and directing his own movies - bad.
Let's hope this was just a quickly forgotten bump in the career paths of our stars. And Furman had better hope Matthew McConaughey someday feels indebted for the launch ``Lincoln Lawyer gave him. This ``Runner goes nowhere. Fast.
MPAA rating: R (for language and some sexual content).
Running time: 1:30.
Cast: Ben Affleck (Ivan Block); Anthony Mackie (Agent Shavers); Justin Timberlake (Richie Furst); Gemma Arterton (Rebecca Shafran).
Credits: Directed by Brad Furman; written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien; produced by Koppelman, Levien, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Shamberg, Scott Steindorff and Stacey Sher. A Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation release.
We're sorry we are unable to find any theaters in that area. Please try again.