Runner Runner review

The Faust legend gets another go-round with this lame thriller. Timberlake plays Richie Furst, the college student cheated out of his savings by an internet operation headed up by millionaire entrepreneur Ivan Block (Affleck) The former travels to sun-drenched Costa Rica to confront the latter and ends up being hired by the confident gambler.

Richie achieves a high-level position in Block's enormous gaming business in about as much time as it takes to boil the kettle, succumbing to the rich earnings and hedonistic lifestyle with ease, not least when flirting with Block's paramour, sultry Rebecca (Arterton). Double dealings are afoot though when Richie is accosted by a plot cipher FBI agent (Mackie) who wants the new recruit to rat on his boss. Poor Richie is soon in over his head and must find a way to extricate himself from the Machiavellian world he has allowed himself to be sucked into. Cue danger, chases, killer crocodiles and no cliche left unturned.

It looks very pretty though. The foreign setting is suitably easy on the eye and it's all presented with an empty slickness that is in tune with the lacklustre script. The online gambling operation depicted here though is simply not an attractive hook for a movie – you can't get excited about it and you never feel that there's anything truly at stake. Consequently the efforts to evoke suspense fail abysmally when the narrative is so slack and by-the-numbers as this.

None of the characters is that likeable, either. Timberlake tries hard but one can never rustle up any sympathy for his plight while Affleck charmlessly underplays as his smooth talking mentor. Arterton looks beautiful of course but comes across as too sweet a Home Counties girl to register much intrigue or lust. She's miscast as a sexy vamp. Efficiently made, however, and with a mercifully tolerable running time, Runner Runner isn't awful, merely derivative and forgettable. Despite its exotic trappings it offers nothing fresh or original in its concept. Distinctly mediocre.

Runner Runner at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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