Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Runner Runner Review: Potential Wasted

Brad Furman's Runner Runner
Director: Brad Furman
UK Release Date: 27th September 2013
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Anthony Mackie, Gemma Atherton
Brad Furman's "Runner Runner" was a film that was much anticipated. Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck combine in this poker movie however our anticipation soon turned to disappointment.  We will run through what we liked and disliked about Runner Runner (excuse the pun).
The idea behind the film is solid.  The story line was good and probably the best thing about the film. Unfortunately though, it did not convey onto the big screen very well.  If you have seen the film "21" (2008) then you will understand that films can be made about card games and can be successful.  This film is not one of them.  Runner Runner begins with Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) playing poker to try and win enough money to pay his college fees. He fails and believes he has been cheated by the site.  He goes onto challenege the owner of the business, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block takes Furst on and into his business but all is not what it seems when the FBI, headed by Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie), turns up and accuses Furst of illegal activities.
Justin Timberlake Ben Affleck
This is where the film broke down for us.  It turned so far away from being a film about poker it started trying to be something else.  It was a shame as we believe if it had stayed more focussed on the game of poker it would have been better.  With the FBI involved and Furst caught in the middle between them and Block a situation arose that we have seen to often in films; the innocent caught between the bad and the good but cannot do the right thing due to the circumstances.
If you saw the cast list before you watched the film you may be quite optimistic.  Affleck, Timberlake and Mackie were joined by Gemma Atherton for the film.  It is safe to say that all of the performances were below par and this is easily one of the worst movies Justin Timberlake is in. However, his own performance was one of the highlights.  The singer-turned actor-turned singer is likeable on screen and plays the innocent role well.  There is something about him that we could relate to. 
After "Argo" (2012), Affleck looked unstoppable but this was not a great performance by him. Maybe the character was wrong and not suited for him but he certainly did not look comfortable on screen and this was a disappointment.  Mackie also did not suit the character. Playing a frustrated FBI agent, who you questioned how legal he was, Mackie did not perform to the standards he set in "The Adjustment Bureau" (2011).  We felt Atherton did contribute much to the film.
Runner Runner was disappointing, especially when you consider the cast and the potential the storyline has. It is still worth watching so you can develop your own opinion. Timberlake makes it easier to watch and is probably the only substantial highlights when watching the film.
M+F Rating: 5/10

Trailer for Runner Runner

Reviewed by M+F Reviews

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