It’s been a while since we’ve seen a classic male movie team-up that had perfect chemistry, especially one carried on into other movies. While you sometimes see the same cast show up in a Seth Rogan comedy, what about two big name stars teaming up as heroes or villain protagonists? When “Runner, Runner” was first announced, the thought of Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake teaming up as online poker sharks seemed like the birth of a possible new movie matchup.
With a consensus that “Runner, Runner” was inferior to what people hoped for, what does it say about the potentials of an Affleck-Timberlake team-up in other movies? Hollywood really needs another movie team in the vein of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. And while the latter team had a possibility of resuming in recent years had Newman not died, Affleck and Timberlake seemed to be the perfect candidates to recreate the similar rare chemistry.
Because we’re living in a time when scripts are more often than not mediocre to their potential, this team-up might have died out before it could begin. There was probably no way Newman and Redford would have been a successful movie team without being in a film with a decent script. But it’s clear that the era of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was a time when scriptwriting was everything and finely crafted by masters. It was the last era of true greatness in American film that seemed to culminate in Newman and Redford appearing in their second and last film together, 1973’s “The Sting.”
It’s somewhat ironic that 40 years later, “Runner, Runner” has similar characters to “The Sting”, including the gambling angle. The only difference is that the villain and villain turned hero protagonists aren’t quite as charming as Newman and Redford were together. Newman and Redford more or less started the A-list movie team-up where the lead characters weren’t exactly saints. Nevertheless, they were still likeable and gave them a sense of intrigue for timelessness.
The “Runner, Runner” world of online gambling might have simply been too much of a slime pit to make Affleck and Timberlake really resonate in a way they could have. It might be time for movie team-ups to create rogues that still have a little bit of humanity behind them so people can find something to relate to. Placing some light comedy in there also helps to play up the wit of each male star.
Timberlake has already shot down rumors he’ll play The Riddler in Ben Affleck’s turn as Batman. Affleck’s chemistry with Henry Cavill as Superman also has to be called in to question whether they can become the first successful superhero matchup as adversaries. Whatever happens, Affleck seems contented working alone most of the time.
If we see Affleck and Timberlake work together again, it has to be more than their characters fighting to the death for the audience to embrace it. In the meantime, “Runner, Runner” may end up being the most lost opportunity in movie history for creating a charismatic classic movie team.