- SOE professors named co-directors of association
- BFA student works featured in one-week show at UAB Visual Arts Gallery
- Grant enables UAB Hospital staff to feed underprivileged moms of newborns
- Military man coming to UAB for first time, graduates Saturday
- UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences to honor distinguished alumni and friends
- ‘Tis the season of giving — UAB launches holiday blood drive
- How a cybersecurity expert protects his smartphone
- ASC presents Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Dec. 15
- Leeth named UAB School of Medicine assistant dean for strategic planning
- Coping with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
Mark’s Movies: Runner Runner
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a guy in over his head in gambling debts owes the wrong people and is forced to scramble to save his own skin- as well as the one he loves. Heard that one before? Okay, how about this: a financially-strapped college student trying to better himself sees a too-good-to-be-true “in” into a big-business corporation but doesn’t realize until it’s too late that he’s sold his soul to the devil. Oh, you’ve heard that one, too. One more: a guy meets a girl with a powerful man in her life and falls in love at his own peril- but is she with him or against him?
Oh, I see. Its well-tread ground, I get it. Well, how about this, then? What if we took all of the above and put it all into one film? That would be original, right? Or at least original-adjacent? Wait! Where are you going? Stop! I swear it’ll be good. We’ve even got Ben Affleck as the bad guy, hot off his Oscar-winning “Argo”! And superstar Justin Timberlake! Oh well…we tried.
So, as you might have guessed, there’s nothing new under the sun in “Runner Runner.” Of course, you can probably tell that from the trailer, which basically tells you everything you need to know going in- if, in fact, you actually end up going in the first place. Honestly, though, if you’ve seen one of the movies that fit the above description, you’ve basically seen them all, with a few exceptions here and there. Hell, I saw one just last month called “Paranoia.” It kind of sucked, too.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. Affleck is nicely understated in a rare turn as the bad guy, who is so subtle in his approach that when he does get ugly, you’re still not sure if he’s really that bad, or just going through the motions of it to prove a point. It’s his job to stay ahead of the competition, after all, so who can blame the guy if he has to play a little hardball now and again? Then out comes the crocodiles and we have our real answer: he’s just a thug at heart like all the rest.
Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake is just JT, nothing more, nothing less. He’s likeable; he’s an everyman- okay, a really good-looking everyman, but still, reasonably relatable. We want him to succeed; we pull for him to surmount the obstacles in the way of his character’s success. But when all is said and done- it’s still freaking Justin Timberlake, for God’s sake. Of course, he’s going to do alright. No one wants to see JT munched down on by crocodiles. (OK, maybe some people…but you’re just jealous, admit it!)
I do love me some Gemma Arterton, but then I’m a bit prejudiced, as I have a thing for redheads, and she’s like the hottest one out there right now. (Blah, blah, blah, Christina Hendricks, blah blah, whatevs…) You probably know her best as a Bond girl, from “Quantum of Solace,” where she played- what else?- Strawberry Fields.
She does a good job of keeping the viewer guessing as to whether she’s on the good guy’s side or the bad guy’s side, but really, it’s kind of obvious which one she’s going to side with. Arterton does the best she can with what’s she got, but Amber Heard did far more with far less in the aforementioned “Paranoia,” so I can’t really justify seeing the film for her, either, anymore than I can justify that film for Heard, and I love her even more.
So yeah, “Runner Runner” is a bit of a bust, quite frankly. I’ve seen worse, to be sure, but this one’s a rental at best, and you’ll probably actually want to wait for cable, if I’m being honest. If you like films of this nature, you’ll probably like this, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before time and again.
No one has anything to be ashamed of here, mind you, but neither do they have anything to be prideful about, either. It’s mildly fun seeing Affleck play a bad guy, but he underplays so much you’re not even sure if he is a bad guy until the evidence become readily apparent late in the movie, though it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
Maybe it’s because there have been so many good films lately, but this one was just a bit of a bust for me. I didn’t hate it; it was just kind of meh for me. I can’t justify giving “Runner Runner” more than a C+ at best, and that’s probably being overly generous, to be honest. I’d suggest run-running to see “Gravity” or “Prisoners” instead. You can thank me later.