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FILM REVIEW: Runner Runner

Categories: Movies

Runner Runner made two things clear for me. Ben Affleck will be a bad-ass Batman and Justin Timberlake should stick to singing.

From the beginning, when the audience first sees Timberlake's character Richie Furst (!) jet from Princeton to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), I knew we'd been dealt a bad hand. Furst is in love with the sound of his voice, nattering away as the narrator, telling us how everyone likes to gamble. But Timberlake lacks the true gambler's focus and stillness. He's just a nice kid in a slick suit, in over his pretty, little head.

I couldn't help thinking what another young actor might have done with this sub-par part — Jesse Eisenberg perhaps or Anton Yelchin. Instead, we have Timberlake, who seems to have left his swagger on the dance floor. Then there's Affleck reveling in playing the heavy, his long and lean head looking like an Easter Island statue plastered with a shark's smile. His ease in doling out casual cruelty suggests Affleck should have no trouble donning Batman's cowl in the next Man of Steel sequel.

Also along for Runner Runner's ride are Gemma Arterton, playing a love interest, and Anthony Mackie as a gruff FBI agent. The former is smoky and alluring while never quite explaining her relationship with Block, while the latter huffs and puffs as an impotent federal agent.

When Furst isn't busy boring us with his personal play-by-play, director Brad Furman substitutes shaky cam for action. The writing team of Brian Koppelman and David Levien try to torque the tired "good boy in a bad world" plot. One would think we'd get something better from the writers behind Rounders and Ocean's 13. But then again, the duo are also working on the script to National Treasure 3.

My advice to JT: keep your dancing shoes polished, your suit and tie pressed. You're not yet a leading man when it comes to big screen, but perhaps we can expect better things with the upcoming Inside Llewyn Davis, a Timberlake role with more natural musical component.

RATING: 2 out of 5

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