Runner Runner 'A Vacant Excursion'

Critics maul Ben Affleck's new thriller

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 4, 2013 2:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Unlike Gravity, which has critics swooning, the new online-poker thriller Runner Runner is flat-out tanking on Rotten Tomatoes. The film stars Justin Timberlake as Richie, a Princeton grad who puts himself through school by playing poker; when he goes belly up, he hunts down online mastermind Ivan (Ben Affleck) and gets involved in his high-stakes, dangerous business. But for critics, it's becoming a putdown contest:

  • "Even with its glossy Costa Rican setting, Runner Runner ... is a vacant excursion with plot holes the size of a small Caribbean island," writes Claudia Puig at USA Today.
  • "Remember the old Ben Affleck, the one who made 28 consecutive bad movies before he turned out to be a pretty good director?" writes Kyle Smith at the New York Post. "He’s back! Behold, the second coming of ... Badfleck." Ouch.
  • The film has "an intriguing setup," writes Richard Roeper at the Chicago Sun-Times, but it "devolves into a by-the-books thriller with Richie paired off against Ivan in a race against the clock and the FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) who talks as if his entire vocabulary was programmed by watching TV crime dramas and B-movies."
  • A bright spot, as per Betsy Sharkey at the LA Times: "Fortunately we do have Timberlake. He has a way of breathing life into even deadened moments. You want to watch him. But like most stars, his acting is better when the plotting is smarter."
At least there's a substantial side to Runner Runner: It has landed in the middle of a regulatory battle over online gambling, reports the AP.

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Justin Timberlake, left, and Ben Affleck in a scene from "Runner Runner."   (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Scott Garfield)
This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Ben Affleck in a scene from "Runner Runner."   (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Scott Garfield)
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