Runner Runner FeaturedWritten by Jon Patch
20th Century Fox, New Regency Pictures, Double Feature Films and Appian Way present a 91 minute, R rated, crime, drama, thriller, directed by Brad Furman, written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien with a theater release date of October 4, 2013.
Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a college student out to achieve his masters from Princeton University. He was paying his way through college not by loans but rather as the middle man for online gaming sites. When he gets caught by the Dean of the school he is given a choice of college or gambling. Richie decides to bet his life savings on poker but when he loses and discovers that he’s been hustled he informs his father Harry (John Heard), also a betting man, that he is going to San Jose, Costa Rica. Why? To find the owner of the site he lost his college money to, Ivan Block (Benn Affleck), to personally inform him of his situation.
After meeting Rebecca Shafran (Gemma Arterton), Ivan’s girlfriend and colleague, Richie gets an invite to the 2013 Midnight Black Expo with one intention in mind, not to gamble but to meet Ivan Block. Their first encounter was short but not so sweet but one day makes a difference when Richie and Ivan meet on Ivan’s yacht called “The House”. Not to soon thereafter Ivan presents Richie with an offer New Jersey or a multi-billion dollar business where in three years he could be making eight figures. Young and a bit wet behind the ears what do you think he took?
People in Costa Rica like Delegate Herrera (Yul Vazquez) are similar to crocodiles that feed on opportunity and when they know of a business man worth billions they want their piece of the pie. Richie soon falls into the role as Ivan’s right hand, one that is soon to become a bit dirty. It doesn’t take long for Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie) of the FBI to get involved knowing that if he threatens Richie and his friends that Richie got involved in the business, Andrew Cronin (Oliver Cooper) and Billy Petricoff (Michael Esper), that he could make one of them crack and confess on Block’s criminal activities.
Things take a twist for the worst when Ivan shows his true colors not only on Richie but the people around him. Never cut a good man out because like in a game of poker sometimes you’re dealt a better hand meaning that other players may have a weak hand meaning some players should have folded when they were ahead in the game. Some people say listen to the voice in your head, sometimes it may be your conscience but sometimes it just may be fear.
I thought Furman did a nice job of directing this story and the writing really had some decent twists and turns to keep the story interesting. There were some moments that the story falls a little flat but overall I really thought it was intriguing even though I personally don’t know much about the gaming industry and after this film probably don’t want to either. That little voice in my head is more fear than conscience I believe when it comes to gambling.
Timberlake is really molding into a fine actor and truly performs well in this role which has some slight similarities to his character in “The Social Network”. Either way he really proves to be moving up the ranks as an actor rather than only a singer. Affleck really gets a lot of flak for his movie roles unless it seems he directs them but maybe playing the bad guy is a good role for him since I felt that he was pretty convincing. I would not say perfect but for a younger player in the gambling world of crime that propelled into wealth swiftly, he does quite well. Arterton who brings the sex appeal and the middle ground between Timberlake and Affleck in the story is quite the looker with beauty to match and definitely added a sense of suspense to the story based on her decisions. I only wish she received a bit more screen time since I think the director could have used her personality with a bit more depth to the story. There are a number of supporting roles that add to the plot but it is truly the relationship between Timberlake and Affleck that take the lead with a slight touch of Mackie to add a bit of intensity. Written and enjoyed but not loved with two paws out of four by Jon Patch.
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