Can Ivan Block beome the Gordon Gekko of the 21st century?
Ben Affleck oozes charm, excess, and corruption as Ivan Block (great villain name, no?), the wealthy and scruple-less proprietor of an online gambling organization in "Runner Runner," the new thriller/morality play from director Brad Furman (who in 2011 gave us the above-average courtroom drama, "The Lincoln Lawyer") and screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien (who wrote the 1998 analog gambling movie, "Rounders").
The trailer opens with Justin Timberlake as Richie Furst (great name for a naive kid ripe for seduction, no?), a brilliant mathematics student stressing about the $60,000 tuition payment due next week. He takes his numbers skills to the Internet and scores a few bucks in online poker – only to lose it all in the final hand. However, he soon discovers that he was cheated out of that last pot, which puts him on a plane to some non-American island paradise where Block rules from his sweet yacht (which he calls "The House") and romances the finest babe in town (Bond Girl, Gemma Arterton).
Block takes Furst under his wing as his protege and, well, you know the drill: Nights of sexy partying and days of driving around in even sexier cars soon go sour as the Master reveals his true nature – specifically, he's the kind of guy who will throw double-crossers to the alligators.
Ben Affleck has certainly played antagonists before. He was the most psychotically enthusiastic of the school bullies in "Dazed and Confused" (1993), and he was the sad yet vengeful angel in "Dogma" (1999). Actually, some of his most notable roles have been similar to the one Timblerlake is playing here – that of a more or less decent fella who's making some really bad decisions ("Changing Lanes," "Reindeer Games," "State of Play," "The Town").
But here Affleck just oozes sheer evil, looking all handsome and cool in his fancy clothes as he kicks some poor dude to a bunch of hungry reptiles. It definitely seems like a "decompression" role for Affleck after the gargantuan task of directing and starring in this year's Oscar winner, "Argo."
Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake can still pass for a college student at 32. He probably will at 42 as well.
"Runner Runner" opens September 27.