r u n n e r r u n n e r
27th September 2013
JT & BA
29th September 2013
In our recent R.I.P.D. review, I lamented the fact that even the trailer didn’t make the film look any good. Well, the same definitely can’t be said of Runner Runner. The trailer made it look like great, trashy fun. It isn’t. It really, really isn’t.
The IMDB synopsis for the movie begins ‘When a poor college student....’ and so on. Timberlake’s Richie Furst isn’t poor. At least not by any standards that you’ll recognise. Having worked on Wall Street just prior to the crash, he is persistently bitter about the fact that all his hard work came to naught when the bubble burst and he missed out on his seven figure income. Well, my heart broke obviously. How is this poor student going to pay for his Ivy League tuition? How will he make it in life?
Furst is an associate for an online gambling site. In exchange for leading students and professors to the site, he gets a commission. The University isn’t keen on this and tell him to shut down his operation. He needs tuition fees so does the only sensible thing. He gambles for it on online poker. When he loses, he immediately suspects foul play and flies off to Costa Rica to confront the site’s owner Ivan Block (Affleck in best scenery chewing mode). Who promptly offers him a job which may or may not be dodgy. The FBI get involved and it all starts to fall apart.
It’s really difficult to care about any of this though because the movie is so unrelentingly dull. Where the trailer offered sleazy trash, we get bland, seen it all before nonsense with a collection of phoned in performances from actors who are pulling the ultimate con by getting paid millions for this tosh. And I’m not blaming them for a minute. Affleck has fun with his swindler, Timberlake is competent as the straight guy, Arterton smolders as required under s spectacularly Essex suntan and Anthony Mackie pops up as an FBI agent just as dodgy as the characters he’s pursuing.
But then we have the script. Utterly devoid of anything approaching humour and completely missing any dramatic tension. We don’t care about Furst, even though his daddy is a gambling alcoholic, he’s just a rich kid chasing money. There is never any real sense of danger, even when Block makes a point to his protege by slinging some local officials to the crocodiles, nobody actually gets eaten, we’re just treated to some very poor CGI reptiles. Furst’s plan to scupper his errant boss is even spectacularly dull. It’s never really clear what he’s actually up to, apart from zooming around town dropping off cigar boxes stuffed with cash, so there’s never an opportunity for us to worry that he’s not going to pull it off.
Runner Runner tries so hard to be exotic and enticing but all it ends up doing is reducing Costa Rica to a bunch of racially dubious stereotypes whilst laying out the most basic of con story lines before swiftly coming to the expected neat conclusion. Without the attendant star power, this one would be sitting very firmly in the direct to DVD bin. Which is pretty much where it belongs.
Check out the trailer here.