Runner Runner, the Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake film centering around a corrupt online casino owner, debuted last week with a paltry $7.7 million. It wasn’t just that the film was facing stiff competition in Gravity — one of the best filmgoing experiences I’ve ever had — it’s that the movie was also terrible. As I wrote in my review: “There’s no tension; there’s no suspense. There’s no logic to the actions of the characters. The scenes don’t really interact with one another. In some cases, scenes feel like they belong in a different movie, a better movie, maybe the one that Ben Affleck signed on to do.”
Turns out, Runner Runner somehow could’ve been even worse, according to THR:
Sources tell THR that at one point, the poker thriller was in such bad shape that Affleck helped bring in his go-to film editor, William Goldenberg, to help credited editor Jeff McEvoy salvage the movie. (Regency insiders insist Goldenberg was their idea.)
Goldenberg, who won an Oscar for Argo and also edited Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone, is said to have improved the final cut of the film, but Runner Runner still was demolished by critics (it scored an 8 percent fresh rating on Rottentomatoes). It likewise was ravaged by moviegoers, who gave the film a C CinemaScore. (Sources close to filmmaker Furman say he lost control of the movie during production.)
My chief complaint with Runner Runner, besides the fact that it was just bad, was that it felt like an outline for a movie that had never been filled in. I wonder if Goldberg didn’t edit out transitional chunks that were too bad to include? Maybe that would account for the gaps.
Either way, it was a dreadful movie, but at least, Affleck recognized it, and though he couldn’t salvage it, I appreciate that at least he wasn’t apathetic to it.