By Chris Nashawaty
August 06, 2015 at 08:25 PM EDT

Nicolas Cage can be fascinating to watch when he goes over the top in gonzo fashion. When he dials it back, though, things can get morose fast. In Austin Stark’s slow-burn drama about a crusading Louisiana politician who keeps getting in his own way after the 2010 BP oil spill, Cage turns the volume down so low it barely registers.

As his calculating wife (Connie Nielsen), father (Peter Fonda), and advisers (Sarah Paulson, Wendell Pierce) all grapple for his soul, Cage’s flawed idealist turns to the bottle and expedient compromise. The Runner is a well-meaning character study with an admirably cynical ending, but it’s too cold to ever fully draw you in. B-

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