Wednesday, April 23, 2014

They Didn't Know When to Fold 'Em

RUNNER RUNNER

Runner Runner is a piece of junk. 

That is my short review for this vehicle that pushes Justin Timberlake (or as I call him, either J-Tim or SexyBack) into his own belief that he is an actor.

He isn't one. 

Come to think of it, neither are either of his co-stars, but now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Richie Furst (SexyBack) has been financing his Princeton education via gambling, first by referring students and teachers to a offshore gambling site, then after the Dean threatens to expel him, by doing some gambling himself (despite a history of gambling addiction in the family).  He finds he loses big, but also that he may not have lost legitimately.

In the words of Richie's friend Craig (Ben Schwartz), who actually tells Richie (and us) what Richie's plans are, Richie decides to go to Costa Rica, present his case to Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), show he was cheated, and get his money back.

How someone who apparently has no money can justify flying down to Central America, crash a private party with I imagine heavy security, and convince someone who has made money off of him to give him his money back is something we need not think too much on.   Even more stunning, Richie not only manages to pull all this off, but Ivan finds that Richie is RIGHT!  Ivan gives him his money back and offers him a job working for him directly.

Now, if I were Richie, I would have taken the money and run, paid off my school, and continued on my merry way.  Then again, while I AM a Richie, I'm not SexyBack.  No way was that going to happen.


One has Grammys, one has Oscars.
Neither has acting abilities. 
Well, Richie is now enjoying the high life in Costa Rica, even getting in a romance of sorts with Rebecca (Gemma Arterton), Ivan's assistant and I think former main squeeze.  As time goes on, Richie finds himself in a shady world of illegal activities and corruption.

I'm going to pause here for just a moment to say, "Online Gambling ISN'T shady? I'm shocked, SHOCKED!"

Richie now has to fend off the Costa Rican officials Ivan's been bribing for years, the FBI Agent (Anthony Mackie) who is powerless here but who puts pressure on Richie to turn evidence against Ivan, and Ivan himself, who we find out not only has swindled millions but is going to make Richie the patsy.

Again, I'm shocked, SHOCKED!

In the end, one good 'twist' allows Ivan to be caught and the lovers to get away.

As I watched Runner Runner, all I could think was that I was watching an outline of a script that got filmed. David Levien and Brian Koppelman's screenplay is clichéd, in some ways idiotic, and it makes the characters rather dumb too.  Richie is suppose to be this highly intelligent person, but never once does he think that a.) he was in a hare-brained scheme, and b.) Ivan may be shady.

We get the issue that Richie's father has a gambling addiction but it is important only in that it is another card that Ivan holds against the surprisingly witless Richie.  We get a subplot about Ivan and Richie blackmailing someone to let them use his online group but nothing ever comes from this, or really from any subplot it introduces then throws away with nary a thought.

Arterton is there just for eye candy, so she suffers the least.  Putting the entire project on the weak shoulders of SexyBack, however, is not a good idea.  He has not achieved anything close to range at the moment.  He may in the future, but SexyBack is not a dramatic actor yet.  Sadly, he manages to at least keep up with Affleck, who continues to show that as an actor, he makes a great director.  Mackie's character is so irrelevant one wonders why he is introduced, though I get the sense he might have enjoyed his time in Puerto Rico.

Speaking of directors, I noted that Brad Furman enjoys moving the camera at every opportunity, even when it isn't called for. 

In the end, we really didn't care one bit for anyone or anything in Runner Runner.  It is perhaps the worst kind of action film.  It is boring. 

JT, we're getting an all-paid vacation out of this.
Stop worrying, we're too pretty to care...


DECISION: D-

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