Edouard Philipponnat is outstanding as the doomed Aiden in Michelle Danner’s solid The Runner. A film that does some great work at making her latest a warning for those tempted by the allure of drugs.
After being busted for drug possession, a troubled teenager and talented runner, Aiden (Edouard Philipponnat), is given a choice by the police: cooperate or spend ten years in prison. Under duress, he makes the tough choice to work alongside a relentlessly ambitious and hard-boiled detective (Cameron Douglas). He has no choice but to confront a local drug kingpin (Eric Balfour). Caught between two worlds – high school dramas and the home comforts of his despairing mother, Miranda (Elisabeth Rohm) and the sinister crime-ridden world he’s been plunged into, Aiden’s troubles begin to spiral further and further out of control.
There are some bright moments in Jason Chase Tyrrell’s script, such as the devastating spirals that drug involvement can bring to their victims, whether they be consumers or dealers. There is no situation where someone can win with their mind and soul fully intact. Unfortunately, The Runner sometimes falters, and it is hard to ignore when it does. What should be a drama tries to push itself more as a thriller, and it doesn’t have the drive or thrills to make itself that.
If it had centred itself more as the drama with hints of thriller to keep the heart rate going, it would have you with both hands. Here? It reluctantly lets go of you, which is a terrible shame as an awful lot is going for The Runner to make it a film you should watch as soon as possible.
Danner is a filmmaker who knows how to fill the room with unbearable tension, and she does so here time after time. Allowing the story to focus on the strain that Aiden is under is a great idea, and she compliments Tyrrell’s script well. Making The Runner a tragedy seconds from happening as the noose keeps tightening around Aiden’s neck and grips you at times. When it tries to push itself to be more formulaic, we begin to notice the threads breaking.
While the story struggles to keep itself together, you find yourself staying with The Runner for the performances; Philipponnat is a constant bag of nerves. Even when he is trying to hide the pressures being put upon him, you see his mind running a mile a minute. His agitated nature only unravels more as The Runner continues. The young actor has a bright future, and he will undoubtedly do well in Ridley Scott’s Napolean. Cameron Douglas does great work as the disturbing Detective Wall, giving us someone we can truly hate.
A sound film that has a lot of potential, you could do far worse than spending 100 minutes with The Runner. Danner uses her experience as an acting coach and pulls fantastic performances from her cast. This is a well-executed film, a human tale of the destruction of getting involved with drugs.
On UK digital platforms now.
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