20th Century Fox
While Runner Runner sets up to be a high-risk thriller with Justin Timberlake gallivanting through Costa Rica, it's more of a lukewarm, predictable take on the old in-way-over-your-head story. The film promises to take us deep into the underworld of online poker, but settles on trying to pacify us with wealth, scantily clad women, and cliché one-liners like, "At Princeton, you’re either bred for it, or you bleed for it," and, "The house always wins."
Runner Runner stars Timberlake as Princeton grad student Richie Furst who loses all of his tuition money in an online gambling scam. Backed up against the wall, Furst shows his thirst for money (and rash decision-making skills) and jets off to Costa Rica in search of Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), the charmingly sly ringleader of the online poker site. Once he's face to face with the infamous offshore entrepreneur, Furst gets a compelling (and suspicious) offer: he can either take the money that was swindled from him and go back to the U.S. or stay and work for Block and make millions of dollars. It takes all of three seconds for Furst to agree to the latter. What follows is a perfunctory 60 minutes of Timberlake having a passionless romance with Block's beautiful right-hand woman (Gemma Arterton), avoiding a cheeky F.B.I. agent (Anthony Mackie), blackmailing people he doesn't know, and making overall poor choices that make us wonder why we're even supposed to be rooting for this seemingly dimwitted protagonist who has so few redeeming qualities, if any at all.
Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the duo that brought us the gambling flick Rounders in 1998, Runner Runner advertises countless thrills, but as soon as we think we're about to hit a climax or an "Aha!" moment, we're let down by unfulfilling (and often unnecessary) plot twists that director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Laywer) attempts to disguise with the glitzy Costa Rican lifestyle. Instead of one cohesive plotline, we're taken along a bumpy ride through an underdeveloped and disjointed story that would be better off with fewer ingredients. By having too many storylines that are never brought to completion, we're left confused by the vagueness of it all.
And when the plot starts to go downhill and we don't know where to turn, we look to the characters to save the day, but unfortunately, nearly none of them have any meat to them (except for Affleck, whose strong and convincing performance as immoral Block is comprised of his trademark charm and an emerging inner villain who wants to come out to play). Too bad Affleck's character doesn't get as much screentime as he deserves. Instead, we're left with Timberlake (who fails to convince the audience that he can play any other character than Justin Timberlake), the handful of supporting characters that are never fleshed out, and poor Gemma Arterton, who plays a woman who lacks chemistry (which isn't entirely her fault) with both Timberlake and Affleck. Runner Runner makes us apathetic to both the characters and the plot, which leaves us feeling completely uninvested. For a film about gambling, an inherent game of risk and reward, Runner Runner takes little to no chances and ends up with a losing hand.
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Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films and Morgan Creek Productions have come together to resurrect Tupac Shakur on the silver screen.
A biopic about the late rapper, simply titled Tupac, will be released in 2014. The film will be shot in Atlanta. Alfeni Shakur, Tupac's mother, will be an exectutive producer for the project.
Seventeen years ago, Tupac Shakur was cut down in a drive-by-shooting that changed hip-hop forever. The rap community, and the music world in general, was left with a gaping void that could never be filled. Through the release of posthumous albums, his recent hologram performances, and a few conspiracy theories, however, it sometimes feels like that Tupac never really left us. Now that there's a chance to immortalize the legend in film, the perfect actor needs to be cast. But portraying a man with such a legendary persona will be a tall order for even the most talented young actor. Tupac possessed an electric charisma and fierce intelligence, but also had a hardened edge to him. You would need an actor that would be able to convey all of these qualities in a multifaceted performance. The actor would also need to be able to spit Tupac's lyrics with a convincing amount street cred and gravitas. Here are our picks for possible candidates that could do the role justice.
Michael B. JordanA choice that is almost too obvious. We've seen Jordan's range in projects stretching from his stints on shows like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, to his layered performance in Fruitvale Station that has even garnered Academy Award attention.
Chadwick BosemanChadwick Boseman wowed us with his heartfelt and intense performance in 42. The actor has a certain presense that allowed him to step into a role like Jackie Robinson with ease, and would also allow him to play a great Tupac.
Anthony MackieAnthony Mackie gets a nod for already having some experience. The actor already played the late rapper in the 2009 film Notorious, a film centered on the life and death of Tupac's east coast rival The Notorious B.I.G.. Mackie is a fine actor whose performance in Notorious left us wanting more of his interpretation of Tupac.
Mechad BrooksMechad Brooks is a talented actor that has had supporting roles in shows like Desperate Houswives and True Blood. Brooks hasn't had the chance to flex his acting muscles on a really meaty role as of yet, but a part like this one could really jump start his career and show the world that he's more than just a pretty face and a pile of abs.
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Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has found his first lady -- and she's not American.
According to Latino Review, who cite a "tip from this weekend," young actress Robin McLeavy has beat out Mary Elizabeth Winstead for the part of Mary Todd in the upcoming adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This news follow a report from last week stating that Anthony Mackie and Dominic Cooper had joined Ben Walker (who plays Honest Abe) in the film.
For those who aren't familiar with this crazy, yet awesome, picture, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based on a novel of the same name by Seth Graham-Smith, who also adapted the screenplay. It re-imagines our 16th president as a vampire slaying ass-kicker and will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian Spielberg. Right now, there aren't many other details available. All we can do now is just continue to hope the filmmakers avoid Forks, WA or we may have to face the unfortunate fact that one of the greatest presidents in American history possibly won't defeat Edward.
Source: Latino Review
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.