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:: Runner Runner

If Ben Affleck was hoping that “Runner Runner” would silence those critics who believe he can’t play Batman, then he’ll be sorely disappointed. The film manages to shoot itself foot by ruining its good set-up and finishing with a poor ending that certainly doesn’t do the film the credit. To his credit though, Affleck does well with what he has been given, but the clichéd script means he really doesn’t get a chance to shine.

“Runner Runner” centers around Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), a gifted young business man who decides to use an online poker site to pay off his tuition. But things don’t go the way that Richie predicts, while he begins winning early on he suddenly finds himself losing the lot when the website ‘cheats’ him out of his earnings.

With the ownership of such poker sites banned in the United States Richie soon finds out that the owner of the site in question is Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), a wealthy businessman who has fled the country and is residing in South America. Richie then decides to travel to meet Block and tell him about the problems with his site, a move that impresses Block so much that he is soon offering Richie a job that will give him the world.

Soon Richie finds himself wrapped up in Block’s wealthy world and also finds himself falling for Block’s girlfriend, the beautiful Rebecca (Gemma Arterton).” But Richie is soon snapped back to reality when he receives a surprise visit from Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie), an FBI Agent who plans on bringing down Block and arresting everybody around him.

Director Brad Furman also does a good job making “Runner Runner” look sleek and for a while, the glossy facade sucks in the audience. The Internet gambling world is not a world that has been explored very often on the big screen and early on, the film promises to be a good popcorn thriller in the vein of “The Skulls” or “Anti-Trust,” Yet, as the film goes on its shine starts to dim.

The longer the film goes on, the more holes begin to appear in the screenplay. At first, it becomes obvious that the characters have become clichéd and one-dimensional. The character of Block becomes a typical Hollywood bad-guy with more bark than bite, while the audience will soon also realize that Rebecca has no back-story at all. It’s like the role was just created so Gemma Arterton could fluff around the screen and look pretty.

When it comes to the acting in “Runner Runner,” the cast are really behind the eight-ball. Justin Timberlake just breezes his way through the film. He doesn’t put in a bad performance but also doesn’t really get a chance to shine either. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck and Anthony Mackie do the best they can with their clichéd roles while the talented Gemma Arterton is just simply wasted.

Early on, “Runner Runner” shows a lot of promise, but the film ends up tripping over its clichés and in the end comes to a halt with a finale that has no bang with it all. It is actually one of the dullest film endings you will see all year. While “Runner Runner” certainly isn’t a boring watch, it never reaches the heights that it promises early on.