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Bad Movie Tuesday: Runner “Expository Dialogue” Runner

February 25, 2014

Runner Runner movie poster

“You’re about to jet off to a country you’ve never been to, with a language you do not speak.”

Runner Runner is a film where everything is explained to you. When it isn’t explained Timberlake asks “What is this?” or “what are we doing here?” Then, Affleck’s character Ivan explains everything and Timberlake says “What is wrong with you?”

The tagline from the poster is “You have no idea who you’re playing with.” The problem is you know exactly who you are playing with. There is nothing new about the characters and it all builds towards double crosses, triple crosses and one more double cross showing how “smart” the main character is. The writing isn’t simply on the wall it is in block letters displayed for everyone to see. Thus, there is zero tension and instead the whole thing becomes kinda funny. Where else will you hear Affleck tell Timberlake:

This is the gambling business in Costa Rica. Occasionally you get punched in the face.

Runner Runner tells the story of a bunch of dudes (and one lady. Gemma Arterton you are better than this) entrenched in the high stakes world of online gambling. Basically, these people are rich but choose to be super rich. They enjoy bikini clad women, stacks of cash and play on the basketball teams that they own. They also have every chance to get away with their money but choose to make more (cue the face punching). The problems are self inflicted and you never care as death via crocodile becomes a reality. Ben Affleck evens warns Timberlake when he says:

If you want a a safer job go work for the post office. If you want a clear conscience go start a charity. If you want your own F**king island and your boss says you have to take a beating. Take it (cue more face punching).

Justin Timberlake is woefully miscast. His character is supposed to be ridiculously smart (we are told this a lot) but comes across as kinda dim (For a smart kid you do some really dumb stuff). His motor mouthed skills worked in Social Network but here he has to navigate tough, smart, dumb, confused and confident with no help from the script (cue expository dialogue to tell us everything!). He is too likable to be a jerk and too manicured to be tough. The character should have been a mousy/intelligent man who loves the dangerous world because he never would have experienced it anywhere else. Timberlake’s character could easily go back to school and live a good life.

Ben Affleck seems to be having a good time as a deadly man who loves crocodiles and hair product. Critics were divided on the character. They either appreciated the performance or called his character a “ludicrously preened tosser.” Either way, he is the only good part of Runner Runner because he breaks the generic mode and comes across as a new age bro-villain.

The director Brad Furman also made the wonderful Lincoln Lawyer. It was a grimy delight that revived Matthew McConaughey’s career and was a sleeper hit. Lawyer’s old school vibe isn’t here as everything looks too glossy and the material feels too written. I was disappointed as the negative reviews poured in and the general consensus was that the film was “clunky.” It wants to be an R rated film but feels like a PG-13 flick.

Runner Runner is not a good film. It tells you everything, tells you again and builds to a climax so easy you slap your head. However, I would love to see a bro-Batman ruling the streets of Gotham.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. davecrewe permalink
    February 25, 2014 3:44 pm

    Lots of exposition and face-puncing; I guess there’s an audience out there for that?

    • February 25, 2014 5:06 pm

      Totally! As long as they don’t explain all the face punching before and after.

  2. February 25, 2014 5:01 pm

    I just couldn’t help myself with this movie. Sure, it was god-awful, but I somehow did find myself having a good time with this, if only because it knew how dumb it was and decided to roll with the punches. Well, that, and the fact that Ben Affleck steals the show everytime he’s on-screen. Good review.

    • February 25, 2014 5:04 pm

      I loved how Affleck kept playing Timberlake. It was fun. However, I can’t believe he fell for that final twist.

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