Review: Runner Runner
A college grad named Richie with a penchant for gambling struggles to pay tuition, so naturally he decides to take everything he has into an online poker game, promptly losing it all. With the help of his nerd friends, he figures out that he was cheated, and surprisingly quickly thereafter he flies down to Costa Rica to meet the exceedingly wealthy and sneaky man who runs it all. Bringing this oversight to his attention, Richie becomes Ivan’s right hand man (right??), becoming a millionaire overnight and loving life – until things go wrong (of course!)
Justin Timberlake is the naïve and annoying Richie, who for reasons passing understanding narrate the movie as well. Ben Affleck is the successful entrepreneur, and Gemma Arterton is one of the many sexy women in his life.
Bathed in the unbelievable, seeped in stupidity, Runner Runner can’t end soon enough – even at 90 minutes, it’s an exercise in eye-rolling and predictability.
For reasons passing understanding, the bright and talented Richie, a masters student and TA at Princeton with only $17,000 in his bank account, can’t get a loan, can’t make tuition that apparently due in a week, and is no longer allowed to be a promoter for an offshore betting website. His only option of course is to play some online poker until he can reach some unreachable amount of money (it would seem that prostitution is out of the question, a major oversight).
After losing big time, he figures he was scammed, hops on a flight to an island retreat, and somehow confronts the man responsible. And then he gets a job with him. All of this happens in the first 10 minutes of the movie, but the rest is just as incomprehensibly convenient.
Clichés riddle a script that elicits groans and eye-rolling. There are metaphors that are meant to be lofty, crooked cops, a hard-nosed FBI agent, and a rich and beautiful woman seemingly ready to risk paradise for some dewy-eyed grad student.
It’s all especially silly, which would be fine if it were some fun. Affleck provides what little there is in the way of humour, playing a smooth-talking and seedy billionaire who everyone is apparently after. One would hope that a film about gambling would take some risks, but everything is telegraphed, without cunning or tension (don’t let the snap zooms fool you).
Someone bought in to a movie that bluffs and teases; it’s got a pretty face, but there is nothing underneath.
Should You See It?
Under no circumstances – unless of course you lose a bet.