Runner Runner

Many times as a reviewer I watch a film that has so many things going for it that there is every reason to expect that it will be a high-quality product. Sadly the sum of the parts do not always come together and I am left to ponder how such an accumulation of talent went so wrong especially when the concept was strong and intriguing.

Such was the case with the new film “Runner Runner” which stars Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, and Gemma Arterton and takes a look at the big money yet seedy and dangerous world of online gambling.


Timberlake stars as Richie Furst, a Princeton student who is seeking his Masters degree and earns his income by getting new clients to sign up for a gambling site. Richie is bitter as he was a player about to get the first of several big paydays on Wall Street who lost it all when the market and the economy turned.


Richie hopes that a Masters from Princeton will get him back on solid footing in Wall Street and dreams of getting back the money he believes was owed to him.


When Richie is told that he must give up his gambling income in order to remain at school after a fellow student complains about him, Richie decides to gamble his last $17K online in an effort to get the $60K he needs to pay for his education.

Richie does well early and despite pleas from his friends to take his $50K and call it good, he presses his luck and loses it all.

Richie then learns that he was cheated and sets out to travel to Costa Rica to meet with the mysterious owner of the site, Ivan Block, (Ben Affleck), and tell him about the cheat program that has been running on the popular site.


Richie is able to meet Block and he in time thanks Richie for being discreet and exposing a problem he did not know about. He offers to restore the money Richie lost and pay him a bonus and then offers him a lucrative job working for him.


Seduced by the lure of big money and the charismatic block, Richie soon moves up the ranks and sets his eyes on the comely associate of Block named Rebecca (Gemma Arterton).

The new found success of Richie soon draws the attention of the F.B.I. and an agent named Shavers (Anthony Mackie), who threatens Richie unless he works for him as an informant against Block.

Now this setup combined with the fact that Block starts to show his darker side as well as the seedy world of corruptions, payoffs, and violence would be an ideal formula for success.

Sadly the film plays out without much drama or tension and gives us very little on the background of the characters and why they do what they do beyond simple greed.

The film does not have any dramatic payoff and plods along in a very methodical way without any real twists or turns.

The finale is fairly underwhelming and is not what audiences deserved after investing their time in the film or the characters.

Timberlake does a good job as the ambitious Richie and Affleck is very good as the charismatic Block. Sadly they can only do so much with their thinly written characters and scenarios that we have seen many times before.

In the end “Runner Runner” is a great concept that is sadly left stalled at the starting line.

2.5 stars out of 5.