The Runner

Unfolding amid the BP oil spill of 2010, this cynical drama charts the moral downfall of a Democratic congressman as he sets out to fight the political influence of oil companies but ends up as a mouthpiece for the petroleum lobby. Nicolas Cage gives a nicely subdued lead performance as the protagonist, allowing the well-intentioned rhetoric of Austin Stark’s script to take center stage. Stark, who also directed, delivers some hearty speechifying about the failure of environmental reform and the vicissitudes of American politics, but he fails to give these ideas much dramatic force; most of the time, the movie just lies flat. With Connie Nielsen, Wendell Pierce, and Peter Fonda as the hero’s father, a disgraced former mayor.