With such credible titles as “The Social Network” and the Coens’ recent Cannes sensation “Inside Llewyn Davis” on his CV, Justin Timberlake’s acting career has hit a certain plane of respectability, without any one performance making either critics or audiences stand to attention. Now comes “Runner, Runner” — the first film since Andrew Niccol’s botched 2011 sci-fi “In Time” to pitch Timberlake to us as a bona fide leading man.
Director Brad Furman last brought us the diverting, attractive but none-too-remarkable thriller “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and his latest appears to be, surprisingly enough, a diverting, attractive but none-too-remarkable thriller. Timberlake stars as a gifted Princeton student who loses his tuition money to a fishy online gambling site; confronting the site’s venal owner (Ben Affleck) soon leads to collusion, with the FBI snapping at their heels. Cue lots of running, presumably.
Will this be the film that makes Timberlake a movie star, as opposed to a charismatic pop phenomenon who acts a bit? I wouldn’t count on it: he looks as amiably serviceable as usual, though at 32, perhaps a little long in the tooth to be playing a wide-eyed college boy. On the evidence of this trailer, it’s Affleck who’s having all the fun in a rare villainous role — though I think it’s safe to say he won’t be returning to the Oscars next year as anything but a presenter. Gemma Arterton does further eye-candy duty, and it’s always nice to see Anthony Mackie, even in a stock government-official role.
The film opens Sateside on September 27, and though the opening shot of the trailer rather oddly references “A Beautiful Mind,” this looks to be strictly post-summer popcorn fare. Nothing wrong with that. Will you be seeing it? How invested are you in Timberlake’s film career? Watch the trailer and tell us in the comments.