Runner Runner
dir Brad Furman
scr Brian Koppelman, David Levien
prd Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
with Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, John Heard, Yul Vazquez, Sam Palladio, Ben Schwartz, Oliver Cooper, Dayo Okeniyi, David Costabile, Bob Gunton
release UK 27.Sep.13, US 4.Oct.13
13/US Fox 1h31
Runner Runner
The high life: Affleck and Timberlake

arterton mackie dicaprio
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Runner Runner Sleek and achingly cool, this film puts sexy actors in beautiful locations. But they're stranded there without a coherent story. It's a fast-paced thriller that simply refuses to establish any sense of tension or danger, and the characters are paper thin.

At Princeton, Richie (Timberlake) is running a gambling website to fund his master's degree. But a dodgy bet leaves him in trouble. So he heads to Costa Rica to confront the online casino boss Ivan (Affleck) who cheated him. Impressed with his initiative, Ivan offers him a job, and soon Richie is living the high life with more money than he can spend. Although the only thing he wants is Ivan's girlfriend-cohort Rebecca (Arterton). Then FBI Agent Shavers (Mackie) starts snooping around, and forces Richie to help take Ivan down.

None of this is remotely convincing, because the characters merely feel like they're being manipulated by a lazy script. Everything randomly ordained without any sense of logic. Maybe this made sense in a longer, earlier draft, but the film is choppy and fragmented, skipping over connective scenes as it rushes into another pointless showdown. Aside from greed, there isn't a motive for anything these people do.

But the film doesn't have much to say about unchecked greed, as it celebrates flashy houses, fast cars, luxury yachts and an endless parade of hot girls in bikinis. There's so little chemistry between anyone on screen that it actually plays better if you imagine that the four central characters are secretly gay. That at least adds some intriguing motivations. But when, for example, Shavers lamely blackmails Richie into securing incriminating evidence, it's just stupid.

What a waste of talent. Affleck at least brings some tough-guy meatiness to his role, while Arterton is feisty/sassy in her thankless role. Timberlake on the other hand can't do anything with the inexplicable Richie, so he just charges around looking good. But the basic fact is that gambling and financial crime are rarely interesting topics for movies, because the stakes don't translate to the audience. And computers are even more boring. So is it surprising that the writers added pet killer crocodiles to spice things up?

cert 15 themes, language, violence 24.Sep.13

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