Arguably better known as an esteemed acting coach, The Runner’s director Michelle Danner certainly has the qualifications needed to cast a charismatic lead. Edouard Philipponnat, who plays Aiden, has a certain something about him that cannot be denied but whether that is enough to redeem The Runner is debatable.
The Runner tells the story of privileged, yet troubled teenager Aiden. After being shopped to the police by his own mother and consequently busted for drug possession, Aiden finds himself facing a difficult decision. He must either cooperate with the police who he has nothing but disdain for or face ten years in prison. Deciding that the former is preferable, Aiden is charged with helping to bring down a local drug kingpin, all while battling his own drug addiction and all the typical stresses that being a teenager brings.
As already alluded to, Philipponnat is an intriguing lead. He has a good screen presence and is convincing as a spoiled and torn teenage. Unfortunately, Aiden is often a hard character to like and as such the film in turn sometimes feels like hard work. The Runner is billed as a crime thriller but predominantly it is actually much more of a coming of age film. When it comes to coming of age films, it is essential that the characters within are not only likeable but relatable and Aiden struggles to be either. Whilst that may be slightly unfair and of course there are universal elements that resonate with the audience, it does feel that Aiden is a caricature of a poor little rich boy who wants to be a gangster. With that in mind, the majority of the characters do feel like stereotypes – the good cop, the bad cop, the nerd who wants to try weed, the bully who says lines such as “Did he stutter?” No one feels like a real person and whilst the performances are solid all round, the entire story and setting feels slightly disingenuous.
The Runner does provide the audience with a reasonable amount of action and some audiences may feel that the film does succeed in that aspect. It is also well made and visually strong. However, the choice to make the film non-linear is to its detriment and in those moments the film does lose some of its momentum.
The casting of Cameron Douglas, son of Michael, may be one of the reasons that audiences are drawn to The Runner. Upon watching the film, Philipponnat may prove more of a reason to stay. Unfortunately there is little to take away when all is said and done.
Thriller | USA, 2021 | 15 | Digital HD | 21st November 2022 (UK) | Reel 2 Reel Films | Dir. Michelle Danner | Edouard Philipponnat, Eric Balfour, Elisabeth Rohm, Cameron Douglas, Kerri Medders