|October 4, 2013|
|20th Century Fox|
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Even if “Runner Runner” straddles the line between stale and refreshing, the ensemble cast alone is enough to get people in their seats, even if their deliveries aren’t necessarily the best of their career. What originally drew me to the film was the villainous performance from Ben Affleck, which we are not privy to in most of his showings. But as Ivan Block, he’s allowed to be the likable bad guy; the bad guy that even when in the throws of performing evil, is still completely captivating. Although his performance, too, straddles a line, mostly between too much and too little, his character is displayed more on his time worn face than in his words or actions. To balance this, Justin Timberlake is tossed in as resident good guy, baby-faced and dough-eyed, given the keys to the castle, but always kept at arms length, which can be said for his performance as well.
Whenever Timberlake is tossed in the lead role of an action movie or thriller, he runs the gambit of being too inexperienced and too flashy, begging the question whether someone else would be better positioned in the same role. Say “Wanted” for example, with lead James McAvoy; I completely buy him in the role of nobody turned professional killer, but Timberlake in “Runner Runner” is never quite convincing. Gemma Arterton is phenomenally gorgeous and even her assets are squandered, left to play the female ping pong between Affleck and Timberlake, with no real motives or direction. Anthony Mackie as overly aggressive FBI agent Shavers is fresh in his role, and perhaps plays his part too well, surrounded by too many people not quite giving it their all. “Runner Runner” is an interesting concept that delivers in small doses and never takes the full plunge.