“If Runner Runner gives off a bit of a Rounders vibe or even Oceans (specifically Thirteen), there’s good reason for that. They share a screenwriter, Brian Koppelman. As someone who watched Rounders repeatedly fall freshman year in college (when I only had about 2 dozen movies in my collection to choose from instead of well over a thousand) I certainly picked up on it. Kid trying to pay his college tuition gets caught up in the underbelly of the gambling scene. Although Runner Runner wasn’t Rounders updated for online gambling instead of underground poker games. It dove further into the other side of things, focusing on the guys running the game.
So we’ve got Justin Timberlake gambling his entire Princeton tuition in online poker. When he discovers that he was cheated, he flies down to Costa Rica to confront Ben Affleck, who owns and runs the site. Affleck offers Timberlake a job. It’s all fun and games (read: lots and lots of money and scantily clad women) until [stuff] gets real.
As I often say on this blog, if you can get into the above mentioned storyline, then you’d probably enjoy the film. It was fast and fun. Flawed, of course, but the type of movie where you don’t really notice that unless you’ve already got something against it. This is Batfleck’s first film since announcing he’s Batfleck, so it stands to reason that he’ll be extra scrutinized here. The sad part is, he’ll probably get a good dose more of that hyper criticism. It’s not that he was bad. It’s that his character is way over the top. He chose to play him sincerely (which was the right choice) but for the first half of the movie, it’s a bit much. It’s exactly what his critics are going to want to use against him, even though I feel the fault lies more in the script than his portrayal. Or maybe I’m just as guilty of being overly critical because of this recent casting news, even if I was doing so in an attempt to be objective. For the record, I still don’t know where I side on that argument. He’s certainly not my first choice (the Josh Brolin rumors held my interest) but I’m not being so quick to dismiss him either.
Timberlake’s presence also made me think of In Time, a similar feeling fast paced thriller he starred in a couple years ago. Actually yeah, combine In Time with Rounders and you pretty much have Runner Runner. Anyways, I do like him as an actor, and he has a tendancy to pick roles where you can just watch him having a blast. That in itself is a pretty good strategy, and one that more actors should adopt.
Holy \m/ okay a quick look at the cast list confirms, the guy who I spent the whole timing thinking “”He looks like American Idiot’s Michael Esper, he’s just skinnier and scruffier””, totally was Esper! Between John Gallagher Jr in the Newsroom, Stark Sands in Inside Llewyn Davis and now Esper (who I previously glimpsed in the Francis Ha trailer) it seems like all three of my primary idiots are breaking into Hollywood. Now I’m giddy
Runner Runner – \m/ \m/ \m/