Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck and/or Gemma Arterton
After the acclaimed "The Lincoln Lawyer", there are only two conclusions that you can come to when watching "Runner, Runner". The first is that "The Lincoln Lawyer" was so good because its source material was equally as good. The second being Matthew McConaughey has come a long way since his days as the juvenile and chauvinistic in romantic comedies. If you are feeling generous, you can say that it is not director Brad Furman's fault that everything about "Runner, Runner" is so laughable, but then again, he should have known better than to be involved in the project.
"Runner, Runner" begins with Princeton student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) being cheated out of his tuition money in online poker. When he learns that the site is hosted from a remote island in Costa Rica, Richie decides to bring evidence of the site's cheating to its owner, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Impressed by Richie's intellect, Ivan offers Richie a position as his right-hand man. However, Richie is soon confronted by an FBI agent named Zbysko (Anthony Mackie), who forces Richie to help him bring Ivan down.
The narrative progresses at a very fast pace, with the film clocking at 91 minutes. "Runner, Runner" makes use of off screen narration by Timberlake to help push the film along, but as a result, it leaves little room, if any, for character development. Months have passed, but onscreen, Richie only shares one intimate moment with Rebecca Shafran (Gemma Arterton), Ivan's lover, before she decides to take his side over Ivan's. Granted, some women do like Timberlake more than Affleck, and it's not like Affleck is playing the good guy here, but her lack of conflict makes her irrelevant to the storyline.
With the absence of a conflicted love interest and similarly, the absence of strong supporting characters, all the film is left with is pitting Timberlake and Affleck against each other. Instead of a high-tension drama where each side tries to outwit the other, Timberlake and Affleck are locked in a fight for the title of "The Actor with the Least Expressions". Everything they say or do only either involves smiling charmingly or furrowing their eyebrows that when actual emotion is involved - Anthony Mackie's scenes - it is hard not to laugh because of the jarring change of tone. However, it is very interesting to see and hear Affleck speaking Spanish in a scene so fluently, which gives this film way more points than it deserves.
Overall, "Runner, Runner" is not a very sophisticated film by any means even if it does have a very classy cast, but at least it does not try to play the audience for fools unlike Ivan Block. The film is clearly targeted for fans of Justin Timberlake or Ben Affleck and no one else, possibly to address the question of who is the better actor, since there is not much story to go upon and no compelling cinematography to carry the picture. It is refreshing to see everyone behaving in the manner that will get the film from point A to point B in the least amount of time possible when confronted with the situations in the film such as when Richie get approached by Agent Zbysko, he quickly reports to Ivan instead of spending half an hour contemplating on what he should do, and when he asks Rebecca to go with him she quickly consents.Cinema Online, 25 September 2013