Runner Runner

By Katherine Williams

Mailed on October 07, 2013

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Dear Crocodile

Dear Crocodile,

I'm not sure if you're aware, but you were recently cast as a murderous reptile in a terrible film called Runner Runner. Frankly, I can't imagine you consented to appear in such a travesty. Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the film's producers and a renowned environmental activist, must have lured you into this slipshod production. Shame on him. On the bright side, your part was one of the best performances! When you slyly creep up on that chicken carcass floating in the water and then… crunch! Well done, Crocodile. If only the film's director, or its screenplay writers, or anyone, really, could have equally sank their teeth into the material.

Since I'm sure no one bothered to tell you, here's what your co-stars were up to in the film. Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a poor Princeton student who struggles to make tuition. He's got nobody to fall back on since his father (John Heard) is a pitiful gambling addict. But the apple never falls far from the tree, and Furst tries to make ends meet by steering Princeton students to online gambling sites, exacting commission, and by gambling himself. He loses all of his money one night, but suspects he was cheated. So he decides to go find the head of the gambling site he played on, poker magnate Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), in tropical Costa Rica, to be compensated. That's where you come in, Crocodile.

Once the story moves to Costa Rica - which, as you know, was actually shot in Puerto Rico - Furst locates Block, makes an impression, and lands a job with the online gambling organization that cheated him. Furst then falls for Block's babe associate/girlfiend, Gemma Arterton, and they have a terribly unconvincing romance. The thing is, Crocodile, the film was so incredibly vacuous that nothing in it 'worked.' Not even a carnal scene between two heartthrobs like Arterton and Timberlake; not even a crocodile scene with you. Nothing but crocodile tears all around.

Don't feel bad, Croc, Laurence Olivier wouldn't have made a difference. Too many basic ingredients were missing in this wannabe suspense: a solid script, or a convincing villain, or, you know, suspense.

Director Brad Furman could have, at least, included you in those party scenes filled with boobage and booty. You could have run out of the water in a Jaws-busts-the-bikini-party sort of way, and wreaked havoc. Instead, you were given a role not fit for a reptile, unsuccessful in its attempt to inspire terror and suspense. Instead, we got Affleck playing a sore excuse for a villain. In one scene, his character pours a bucket of chicken fat on some Mafiosi's head, and then pushes him into the water where you're supposed to devour him. Except instead, you… well, I won't ruin it for those who, despite my warning against it, want to see the film. Suffice it to say that it was awkward, unconvincing and gross - because of the chicken fat, not you!

_Runner Runner, _as a whole, is a mess. It's too bad, because the online gambling thriller angle could have worked. After all, San Jose, Costa Rica, is a real and renowned online gambler's paradise. Surely a little sociological research could have uncovered something interesting. And, as your cameo appearance portrayed, Crocodile, Costa Rica's a wildlife sanctuary. Those two aspects of the story could have substantiated the film. Alas, they didn't. But if you think you were represented poorly, you should hear Timberlake and Affleck's Spanish.

Lo siento,


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