By Mandela Wells
Special to the Chronicle
Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake are two of 2013’s most talked-about talents. Timberlake’s album, “The 20/20 Experience,” is currently the highest-selling album of the year, and Affleck won an Oscar for “Argo” back in February. When you think of these two individuals and the strong work they have produced, you would expect great things when they work together collaboratively. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all with “Runner Runner.”
Directed by Brad Furman, “Runner Runner” revolves around Richie Furst, an intelligent Princeton grad student (Timberlake) who is trying to pay his tuition fees. He goes to Costa Rica to confront Ivan Block (Affleck), the man he believes cheated him of his tuition money in an online gambling game. Ivan, however, persuades Richie to help assist him with the empire he has created off the site’s success, while also promising to pay Richie back his money. Richie gets seduced by this idea and ends up becoming a very wealthy man, until it is brought to his attention by FBI agent Shavers that what he is doing is illegal. From this point on the film goes into a different direction, and it becomes apparent that this is not the R-rated crime thriller that it should have been.
“Runner Runner” has many similarities with “Wall Street,” especially when it shows the relationship between Richie and Ivan. It has potential to be as good as “Wall Street” with some exciting thriller scenes, but unfortunately ends up being a surprisingly disappointing gambling film. The acting in “Runner Runner” is terrible except for the acting by Justin Timberlake. Timberlake is not to blame for this horrendous piece of work.
Affleck plays his very first villainous character and he ends up not even close to being terrifying or sinister, or any of the necessary adjectives that you would think of when talking about a movie villain. The most embarrassing part of the film for me was watching Anthony Mackie, in his supporting role as FBI agent Shavers, be much more antagonistic and scary than Affleck, who is one of the actors that is actually being promoted in TV spots as an antagonist.
Gemma Arterton, who plays Rebecca Shafran in the film, gives a dull and unentertaining performance. She serves more as eye candy than as an integral character.
The film also had some bad cinematographic moments. During a chase scene with Timberlake an annoying steady cam was used, which really bothered me while watching that scene. The movie also felt very short. It feels as though you are skimming through the film rather than watching it.
“Runner Runner” is an atrociously lackluster film that does not by any means show the real true talent that Timberlake and especially Affleck have, for those who have never seen them on screen. This film proves that even with two big names in a film, if the script is not spectacular, then it becomes a major disappointment for moviegoers and especially fans of the actors.