Saturday, October 5, 2013

Runner Runner

Yes, despite its abysmal 8% critics rating (and terrible 37% audience rating) on Rotten Tomatoes, I went to see this movie. Why?

  1. Ben Affleck looked so great chewing the scenery in the trailer.
  2. Poker.
  3. Ben Affleck's scenery chewing.
Really, I wanted to see what kind of bad guy Affleck would be.

I'm sorry to report that Affleck's performance, though good when they let him go crazy, couldn't save the movie.  That's not to say that I didn't have a decent time watching it; I did.  I find enjoyment in almost every movie.  In the end, though, Runner Runner suffered from the same problem that has plagued so many recent films:  It couldn't decide what it wanted to be.

Much of the time, it tried to follow the classic line of a good guy (Richie, Justin Timberlake) who gets seduced by a bad guy (Ivan, Affleck) but who ultimately regains his moral footing and redeems himself.  You can't tell this story successfully, though, if the good guy starts out tainted in the same way that he ends up tainted; that character shows no growth.  Richie here worked for a corrupt brokerage, and the only sorrow he feels about that experience is that the job didn't last long enough to make him rich.

Some of the time, as in that opening and much of the trick-the-trickster ending, the movie tried to be a noir piece, with everyone morally corrupt and no real good guys.  Its tone, though, suggests it couldn't commit to that path, either--though it was closer to this path than the other.

Instead, the plot chugged along, Richie won, and he flew off in a private plane with a beautiful woman (the largely wasted Gemma Arterton) to continue cheating people, though this time without a bad boss.  The end.

As I said, I had a pleasant enough time, but this one was strictly empty calories.

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