Runner Runner Blu-ray Review

After he became a household name in 1997 with GOOD WILL HUNTING and before his career resurgence in 2010 with THE TOWN, Ben Affleck starred in about 20 movies that, at best, could be considered average (I’m being generous with some of those).  Affleck’s critics point to that dark period if they need a reason to trash the guy.  But lately, Ben Affleck has completely redefined what people think of him, giving us some of the best movies of the last few years.  And then there’s RUNNER RUNNER, which feels exactly like something Ben Affleck would have made in 2001.

Ben Affleck in Runner Runner

Justin Timberlake plays Richie, a college student in financial trouble that decides to take a chance with an online poker game.  Richie is a smart kid that has grown up around poker and gambling, so he likes his chances.  But when he loses everything, he does some research and learns that his losing was almost mathematically impossible, meaning he was cheated.  That takes him to Costa Rica, where he pushes his way all too easily into an encounter with a high profile owner of an online gambling website, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck).  Ivan takes a liking to Richie and soon, they team up to make more money.  Even though the audience knows it from the start, Richie eventually learns that all is not well in paradise as FBI agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie) is after Block for all kinds of illegal activities.  This puts Richie in a bind and soon he’s caught between an overzealous FBI agent and an amoral businessman.

Ben Affleck in Runner Runner

But if you think there might be some intensity in there, you’d be wrong.  We know everything that’s going to happen, almost before Richie starts playing poker online in the first 10 minutes.  But what’s more irritating are the bland performances from everyone around.  If you want some ammo for your anti-Affleck as Batman crusade, then look no further than RUNNER RUNNER.  It almost looked as though it was a burden for him to show up on set everyday as every line was uttered with a complete lack of enthusiasm or effort.  Justin Timberlake is still trying to prove his ability, so he put more effort in than others, but even his doe-eyed Richie got on my nerves for how empty a character he was.  But the actors aren’t completely to blame since none of them had anything to say that was even remotely intelligent.  At least Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie got a free vacation out of the deal because they are way too talented to play such one dimensional characters.

Ben Affleck in Runner Runner

Brad Furman directed a surprisingly entertaining film in THE LINCOLN LAWYER, but RUNNER RUNNER is about as pedestrian a “thriller” (I use that word very loosely) as you can make.  There’s no style, no intensity and nothing here that we haven’t seen before.  I’m sure there are some good stories revolving around online gambling, but Affleck’s comical villain and Timberlake’s amateurish hero weren’t the right way to broach the subject.


Video: Maybe the beautiful locales were enough to entice Affleck and company to sign on for the film.  RUNNER RUNNER is a great looking film that shines through on Blu-ray.

Audio: The audio was just as impressive.

House of Cards: The Inside Story of Online Poker (16:59):  There’s an interesting featurette here, but it’s clouded by the actors giving their two cents and way too many movie scenes.



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