“Those are crocodiles.”

Runner Runner trailer review.

Justin Timberlake has a gift, but it is not what you think. In the real world, Mother N Sync’s most famous child (what happened to the others? Isn’t one of them still in space?) is well-known for ‘the gifts’ of dancing, singing and appearing to be a genuinely nice chap. Not so in the world of Runner Runner. No, here, sexual Justin is a maths genius. “He’s doing sexy Math.”

Justin, whose character name, incidentally, is Richie Furst, has a problem and it isn’t that the jocks of Princeton call him ‘Dick Furst’. Richie can’t afford to pay the fees for his BA in Being a Genius, so he uses his maths power to gamble in order to raise the cash to continue…but gambling is banned at straight laced Princeton. We know this because the Dean sits JT down at the start of the trailer and says, “Gambling is banned at Princeton.”

What a quandary. What will Dick Furst do? Being somewhat of a maverick ‘genius’, he gambles anyway, poker is his game of choice, and loses. So he drinks on his own, as that is what you do when you are slightly depressed about anything, Hollywood has taught us this.

The screen cuts to black, with a noise akin to that of a Transformer farting. This is a stock trailer trope. Whenever something upsetting or dramatic happens, or the mood needs shifting or time lapses – cut to black, Transformer fart. It is trailer language for ‘some boring expositional guff happens here in the real film, but we don’t have time for that here as we are off to…Costa Rica! (It isn’t always Costa Rica).

Timberlake finds out he was cheated out of his money – I don’t really know how he does this, the trailer doesn’t really care so we shouldn’t either but at one point it looks as if Justin is sitting next to an FBI agent, which, of course, is totally plausible; if I had a penny for every time the FBI helped me out of a gambling jam, which is what I shall be calling all alcohol from now on, I’d have 12p.

Anyway, Richie Furst goes to see Ivan Block (played by Bat-ffleck) who is the owner of the online casino that bankrupt JT, and he lives on a yacht called “The House.” What?! A yacht called ‘The House’ you say, that is just crazy! Why would you call a yacht a house, Ben Affleck? “Because the house always wins.” When this line is uttered you can almost hear the sound of the writer high-fiving himself in the mirror.

Affleck/Batman/Ivan Block, gives Timberlake his money back, after Timberlake proves his worth by pointing out a flaw in Block’s casino design – it all has something to do with maths. Affleck knows a maths genius when one steps aboard his yacht and offers JT a job that guarantees, “Seven figures in the first 18 months.” Now, I don’t know what type of figures he is offering JT, but I reckon they must be first edition Star Wars in their original packaging judging by how fast Timberlake, sorry, Dick Furst, is happy to completely forget his education and life back at Princeton.

And so we have the ’set up’, at which point all trailers usually descend into a generic, confusing montage of images that are supposed to leave the audience wowed, but usually leave us confused, and Runner Runner is no different.

Cars, girls, blue, pools, drinks, cars again, money, more blue, suits, Ben Affleck wearing a suit, Justin Timberlake wearing a suit, Gemma Arteton looking at Justin Timberlake, more money, more girls, more drinks, cars, stop! Cut to black. Transformer fart. Tone change.

Timberlake is kidnapped and sat down by a hat wearing FBI agent, not the same one that helped him at the start. This chap may be dressed like a Costa Rican bar tender, but he means business. He tells JT all about Block’s rap sheet. “Extortion, bribing officials, you have no idea what you have got yourself into”. Haven’t you just told him?

Cut to: the docks at night. “Those are crocodiles.” mutters Dick Furst, who has clearly seen a nature doc or two. Yes they are Dick and your boss is about to kick a fat man into their watery playground – bet you wish you had gone back to Princeton now, eh?

The trailer ends with a crescendo of Affleck shouts and Basil Exposition type lines, played over the top of images of money and suitcases, giving the impression Justin intends to, ahem, attack the Block, take down his empire and escape with Gemma Arteton, who is still looking at him. Will he manage it? Probably and along the way we will all learn the valuable lesson that anything that involves maths is evil.

Verdict: Runner Runner will undoubtedly be watchable. Affleck and Timberlake are extremely likeable screen presences, and both are underrated actors. Arteton is brilliant in nearly everything, but will probably be given little else to do in this than jiggle about in a dress and give JT a reason to ‘want out’.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say: “The first two acts were entertaining enough, but the final third descended into preachy drivel.

Don’t say: “Timberlake was terrble as Robin.”


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