October 06, 2013

Runner, Runner

For those of you who thought Ben Affleck's run of crappy movies was officially over, fear not. Runner, Runner is about as bad as they come. It's a series of implausible events that demand more of the viewer's patience and suspension of disbelief than is reasonable. The plot involves a Princeton student (Justin Timberlake) who gambles away his savings online in an attempt to pay for grad school. But when he learns that the online poker website cheated him, he flies to Costa Rica to confront the site's owner (Ben Affleck). That seems reasonable, right? (Am I only the one who found this in and of itself ridiculous?) He says, "I could have gone to the forums and accused you of cheating, but I didn't." Good logic so far. Affleck, who plays a sleazy super-millionaire with the right amount of arrogant faux-charm, thanks Timberlake for being so considerate and offers him a high-paying job, then proceeds to make him his patsy. Meanwhile, our easily duped hero encounters an ambitious FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) who wants him to assist the government in nailing Affleck. The plot is so obscure yet so familiar that there's nothing to hold one's interest. Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who rely too much on bad poker lingo. (Their non-poker lingo is confusingly written too.) They have a real knack for creating cardboard characters whose names you won't be able to remember. Also, it's difficult to believe that Justin Timberlake could intimidate anyone when he goes about plotting his revenge. Run, run away from this movie. Directed by Brad Furman. With John Heard, Gemma Arterton, and Yul Vazquez.

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