The sparks of life in this film -- and you can count them on one hand, even if you've lost a finger or two to illegal fireworks -- involve Ben Affleck performing a variety of villainous activities.
First, he shows up wearing a shiny suit. Nobody nice in a movie ever wears one of those, so even though it happens in the beginning of the film before you're officially notified of his villainy, you see him and think, "Something's wrong with that cat. I bet he's the Internet-gambling powerlord who lures smart-yet-naive Justin Timberlake into his lair of wealth and bikini ladies and then turns the virtual poker tables on him, treating him like a protege/kid brother but then setting him up to take the fall after absconding with all the cash to an exotic island outside of American extradition powers, much like the plot of the little-seen-and-also-laughably-bad-late-summer-release-starring-Liam-Hemsworth-and-Harrison-Ford Paranoia. It would probably serve Justin Timberlake well, I'm guessing, if he were a touch more paranoid himself."
Second, he can keep a straight face while Timberlake's math/finance genius character recites technical math and finance dialogue from the dumb and dumberer script. If Ben Affleck were really Justin Timberlake's friend he'd just start laughing at this sort of thing. That he doesn't is just one of many indicators that he plans to ruin Timberlake's entire life.
Finally, Affleck's big boss man blows off steam by hurling raw, plucked chickens into his mini pond full of pet crocodiles and watching them bite each other's faces off in an attempt to get a decent meal. He does not thoroughly wash his hands after this sporting event and probably passes on salmonella poisoning to everyone he touches. Just to repeat: dude has a gang of pet crocodiles. Later, he pushes some enemies into this water grave. Borderline Scarface-level goodness.
And that's it. It would be nice to report that this gambling-based thriller is the kind that's not so lazy that all it can do is slather the screen with luxury goods, sweet rides and thong-ish swimsuits. Or that it's insightful on a rudimentary level about the nature of risk, that it tries even one time to get to the heart of why people bet everything they have -- and sometimes everything they don't have -- for the dopamine of free money. Or that there's some excitement involving duplicity and counterattacks and FBI surveillance. Or explosions or chases or...
Yeah, nothin'. Waste of a good shiny suit and a crocodile wrangler.
STAR RATING: 0.5/5
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