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Review Roundup: Critics Find Affleck and Timberlake's 'Runner Runner' to Be Mediocre Mediocre

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood September 25, 2013 at 1:27PM

Ben Affleck may be on a roll in 2013, with Oscar-winning "Argo," and his casting as Batman in Zack Snyder's Superman-Batman installment, as well as the co-lead in David Fincher's "Gone Girl," but "Runner Runner" won't go down as another victory in his banner year. Critics have only dismal things to say about the thriller, which co-stars Justin Timberlake; the two leads play men caught up in a dangerous online gambling enterprise in Costa Rica.
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Ben Affleck in 'Runner Runner'
Ben Affleck in 'Runner Runner'

Ben Affleck may be on a roll in 2013, with Oscar-winning "Argo," and his casting as Batman in Zack Snyder's Superman-Batman installment, as well as the co-lead in David Fincher's "Gone Girl," but "Runner Runner" won't go down as another victory in his banner year. Critics have only dismal things to say about the thriller, which co-stars Justin Timberlake; the two leads play men caught up in a dangerous online gambling enterprise in Costa Rica. 

"Runner Runner" hits theaters October 4; as Variety predicts, the film may very well not "escape the forces of 'Gravity,'" Alfonso Cuaron's wildly praised sci-fi epic, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, which has its release the same day.

The Hollywood Reporter:

What's actually up onscreen in this vaguely ambitious but tawdry melodrama falls into an in-between no-man's-land that endows it with no distinction whatsoever, a work lacking both style and insight into the netherworld it seeks to reveal. Despite an intriguing set-up and Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake heading the cast, this Fox release holds a losing box-office hand.

Variety:

Whatever his shortcomings as a director, Brad Furman clearly has a knack for timely casting. 2011’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” was a watchable yet unremarkable courtroom drama elevated above its station by a lead turn from Matthew McConaughey just as his late-career resurgence was taking flight. Debut feature “The Take” boasted a key supporting part from recent Emmy winner Bobby Cannavale. And now with “Runner Runner,” Furman snags Justin Timberlake in an intermission between blockbuster album releases, and Ben Affleck between directing an Oscar-winning film and beginning his term at Wayne Manor. Yet despite his stacked deck of a cast, “Runner Runner” adds up to little more than a charmless, paint-by-numbers thriller unlikely to escape the forces of “Gravity” in its early October release.

Digital Spy:

Despite what the title suggests, this isn't one of those running around, race-against-time thrillers. The action moves at a breakneck pace, but it all becomes a meaningless blur with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake hardly breaking a sweat, except in the sunshine in Costa Rica where they're running a dodgy online gambling empire.

Empire:

However exotic the locations and starry the stars, there’s no escaping this is The Devil’s Advocate of online gambling. Fold.

Total Film:

Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck give their best poker faces but ultimately fail to convince you to gamble your cash away on this limp, unoriginal story of a man out of his depth.

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.