In 2011 director Brad Furman delivered a solid entertainer in the form of The Lincoln Lawyer. His first movie since then is Runner Runner, a film set in the world of online gambling. And it stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck.
Why am I stating all these facts in this order?
Because The Lincoln Lawyer was gritty, muscular, and entertaining. Runner Runner gives us all the ingredients for one of those ‘this could be fun’ thrillers and then just lays them out. Unfortunately eating the ingredients that make a delicious dessert is not the same as eating that delicious dessert. The feeling I got from watching Runner Runner was that they needed to bake this confection for a little while longer.
Costa Rica plays the exotic location; Gemma Arterton plays the buxom babe that Mr. Timberlake’s character Richie Furst takes a liking to. The movie tells us that there is a lot of money at stake in online gambling and Mr. Affleck’s Ivan Block is the one doing the wheeling and dealing. But I gotta tell you, Justin Timberlake is no Charlie Sheen and Ben Affleck is no Michael Douglas so this updated Bud Fox-Gordon Gecko relationship doesn’t play as well as it could have. Which means this movie plays out and we are never really fully immersed in the on-screen action.
Final Analysis: A movie like this is becoming as predictable as the average romantic comedy. Will the bad guy get away with it? Will the good guy turn the tables on him? Those are questions with Yes or No answers. So it is the filmmakers’ job to keep audiences so occupied with cool visuals and swagger that they don’t notice that the end is more predictable than the eruption of some sort of scandal in the sporting world.
My Advice: This is a by-the-numbers thriller that you are better off watching on DVD, or cable.