Runner Runner (2013)

Runner Runner (2013)
  • Time: 91 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Brad Furman
  • Cast: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton

Princeton grad student Richie, believing he’s been swindled, travels to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block. Richie is seduced by Block’s promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him.


  • Some people will like this, others will hate it. Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake are not really my favorite actors, so I had no expectations for this one. But… “Runner Runner” is an underrated and highly entertaining action movie with a good mouse and cat story with twists and betrayals. I was surprised to see an entertaining story with a lot of beautiful landscapes in Puerto Rico (indeed, not in Costa Rica). Ok, the acting was not that special, but like I said, I was not expecting that. Affleck and Timberlake have just done their job, nothing else. Overall, this movie had a great story line, in-depth characters, and a great setting. That’s why I liked it!

  • You are currently on the internet, reading this review. There’s also a big possibility of you having a Facebook account and some of your friends playing Poker on it, or maybe you playing it. Or maybe you/your friends play some other card game, on Facebook or some other website. My point is that card games and other types of gambling are all around the internet – be that in form of free games like on Facebook, be that in form of online gambling involving real money. It’s not a secret that this online gaming phenomenon is all around us. Therefore, I was waiting for a movie to fully explore this topic and in return give a potentially great story. Runner Runner is not that movie.

    Runner Runner is a movie about a Princeton University student, Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), who has some experience in online gambling and one day tries to play online poker to earn money to pay his scholarship. During this process, he gets cheated on and, just like any other reasonable person would do, goes to Costa Rica to find the mastermind behind the online site he’s been cheated on. The mastermind is called Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) and he soon employs Richie in his team of online gambling providers. Not long after that, Richie starts enjoying the taste of money, women and parties. Complications ensue in the form of a love triangle with Ivan Block’s girlfriend (?) Rebecca Shafran (Gemma Arterton) and in the form of the FBI trying to talk Richie into becoming a snitch.

    Runner Runner takes its name from an obscure (at least to people who are not familiar with poker) poker definition. This name, just like the movie itself, doesn’t really make sense, since it presumes that this movie has a lot to do with poker – which it doesn’t. Also, in case you actually know the definition of the term ‘runner runner’, the name of the movie serves as a giant spoiler. I’ll have more dignity than the people behind this movie so I won’t go in explanation of the term and won’t give out any spoilers. The fact that Runner Runner has no major connections with the topics of online gambling is the movie’s first and biggest problem. Instead of developing this possibly interesting concept of online gambling/addiction, Runner Runner plays itself as a generic, boring crime/drama.

    Of course, wasted potential is not Runner Runner’s only problem. Another big problem is Justin Timberlake, or should I say his acting ‘abilities’. I don’t know why he’s so persistant in pursuing an acting career, but he should stick to what he knows best – singing and being a pop star. His acting in Runner Runner switches from laughably bad to underwhelmingly stiff. His much experienced supporting colleague Ben Affleck isn’t much better. Ivan Block should have been charismatic, interesting, someone whose sole appearance engages the audience – everything that Ben Affleck isn’t. I don’t think Affleck is a terrible actor overall, nor do I think he did a laughably bad job in Runner Runner, but he was definitely an awful casting choice for the role of Ivan Block. Arguably, Gemma Arterton did the best job of the three, playing the seductive Rebecca Shafran – however, her role was rather easy and any other young and beautiful Hollywood actress could have easily done the same. Those three stars, and the absence of a better script, make Runner Runner a dull, lifeless movie that lacks enjoyment.

    Rating: 5/10

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  • “That little voice in the back of your head right now, it’s not conscience, it’s fear.”

    Besides the fact that “Runner Runner” is a poker term , and you’ll see Timberlake play online poker for a night, there won’t be anything anymore related to a poker game in this movie. So don’t expect a movie like “Rounders”. “Runner Runner” is about managing an online gambling site on the Internet , the immense amount of money that is earned by the website owners and the fact that there is fraud on a global scale. “Everybody gambles !” is the first thing Richie Furst ( Justin Timberlake ) says in this film . Whether it’s on a gambling site or on the stock-market , real money or fake money somewhere on an online gaming site . Gambling became a normal thing in our daily lives .

    This movie is not a quality piece of work.It is fairly predictable and full of imperfections in the script .The only positive I saw were the two protagonists Affleck and Timberlake . Ben Affleck is perfect for such a role as a clever, shrewd and dangerous criminal who deceives everybody . At least he’s doing better as in “Daredevil”. That was a pathetic performance . He’s super cool, but not cool enough to play a superhero.

    Justin Timberlake is not a top actor , but he’s not that extremely bad. In “In Time” I thought he was only mediocre. But in “Trouble with the Curve” he delivered an excellent performance . In this movie , he plays in a convincing way a rather intelligent university student who already earned a lot on Wall Street in the past. Unfortunately, he has lost a fortune there ( also not in a nice way apparently) and now he tries to gain it back by gambling on a website of which he’s an “Affiliate”. But normally he should know that this really is the worst solution . Luckily he didn’t lose all his money so he still can book a ticket to Costa Rica. Now for some implausibilities. First, no one would think about traveling to an exotic country to confront a gambling kingpin with his loss. Second, that person won’t give in for such a tiny unimportant person. And certainly not with only some dull statistics showing that the pattern of a particular player deviates from a normal gambler. And third, if that person would admit that something went wrong and afterwards offer a very lucrative job, I would scratch my head and become really suspicious about that. Those are a few questionable facts in this film , in my opinion .

    Gemma Arterton again plays a stupid meaningless role in this movie. Just playing her beautiful self once again. Her makeup , hairstyle and feminine forms are the only thing you can look at admiringly.

    “Runner Runner” is a mediocre crime with a few thrills on a beautiful exotic location with a good looking cast, as well in performance as in appearance. A movie that’s not to boring but so meaningless that in a week you’re wondering what it was about anyway.

  • I’m going to start this review off by saying that Justin Timberlake is in way over his head (I’m not just talking about the character he plays) in Runner Runner. The first movie I ever saw him in was Alpha Dog and he was excellent you know, as a supporting player. Now, we have him occupying one of the lead roles (along with the effectively slumming Ben Affleck). I gotta say that watching this dude assist in carrying a feature length film can sometimes be very frustrating. If you can get passed the fact that he looks about 15 years old and deals with heavy handed thugs from Costa Rica (along with hard nosed, manipulative FBI agents), then Runner Runner might be your spiked cup of tea. What we have here is a shallow, empty, and implausible farce of a movie (I find it hard to believe that the events that take place are rumored to be the make up of a true story) but somehow someway, an entertainingly bad one at that. Its director, Brad Furman, directs with a slickness equivalent to an oily racetrack. I’ve seen his last film (The Lincoln Lawyer) and I totally knew what to expect. Like “Lawyer,” Furman supplicates Runner Runner with a juicy script (lots of zingers too), a nice brisk pace, and decent performances (even if the actors involved are a little miscast). This exercise is basically the movie equivalent of the best fast food you ever ate. It’s not healthy (minimal nutritional value), it goes right through you, and usually it has extra cheese. I’m gonna hold my breath and recommend it though for its witty, smart aleckness in the script and its continued effort to get you the viewer, to like it no matter how silly things unfold. Like I said earlier, Timberlake strainfully appears to be in uncharted territory with the demands of his role (in this beautifully locale-furnished setting). But the phrase, “it’s only a movie,” is unequivocally on his side.

    Taking place in two different countries (two different climates too), produced by megawatt star Leonardo DiCaprio (maybe he wanted to stay away from acting in this thing and leave the duties to Timberlake, who is kinda the poor man’s Leonardo DiCaprio anyway), and moving the plot along with total aplomb (within the first I don’t know twenty minutes, everything is set in motion), Runner Runner tells the story of Richie Furst (apparent A-lister Justin Timberlake). He’s a student at Princeton University who almost gets kicked out because of his association with on-line gambling (he basically turns other students on to it through his own site and then gets a cut when they win anything). He can’t pay his tuition without this money he earns so he decides to do one last game on his own. He does this in order to make a profit of $60,000 (that should cover everything for one year. Wow college is expensive). When he gets cheated by an off shore con artist name Ivan Block (played with a slimy urgency by Ben “I don’t look like a guy named Ivan” Affleck) and loses all of his supposed winnings, Richie gets on a plane and boom, confronts the cheater (self made millionaire) asking him for his money back. Ivan returns his winnings but also wants Richie to stay in Costa Rica and work for him (of course, without this plot element how could the movie go on). From then on, Runner Runner almost completely leaves the online poker element and goes straight into the fallible world of marginalized greed and deception. To give things some added dramatic heft, Timberlake’s Richie is also being followed by an FBI agent named Shavers (played by Anthony Mackie who steals all the scenes he’s in and creates a character you keep wanting to see). Shavers wants Richie to help him take Ivan down. If he succeeds, he won’t go to jail and get back safely to the states.

    Throughout the film’s moderate length (an hour and a half plus change), I was fitfully entertained (not by plausibility but by sure dimwittedness). The ending, well that was my favorite part. Let’s just say that the film’s conclusion, although a little twangy, will have you frolicking in your seat (possibly laughing heartily as well).

    When it’s all said and done though, Runner Runner is kinda predictable (the trailer pretty much explains most of the movie. The rest you can easily figure out on your own) but it’s fun, breezy, and downright cheeky (especially when you have Mackie delivering crackling dialogue every time he’s on screen). Honestly, just when you think things might head downhill, this film picks up the pace and willingly takes you with it. It’s definitely not a movie going experience you would (or should) take seriously (there’s a lot of times when I thought to myself, “yeah right”), but if you (gulp) decide to take a chance on Runner Runner, you just might like it like it.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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