Runner Runner: Movie Review

"Runner Runner" tries to weave a tale that is driven due to pure greed. A tale that not only plays with the lure and sins of gambling but more so with the rottenness of corruption and bribery. The film was at times engaging but honestly not often enough as bouts of dead air and unbelievable sequences of events take place from time to time. Worse, "Runner Runner" is fatally hampered due to a rather apathetic brisk through key moments in the story and missing that important chemistry from its two key leads.

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a brilliant Princeton grad student on his way to finishing his masters. Richie, in order to further finance his studies, takes commissions from online gambling operators. But when his scheme is discovered by the Dean and orders him to stop or else he will be expelled, he is forced to risk all of his savings in the popular gambling site, Midnight Black. Unfortunately, Richie loses all of it in one sitting but, as luck would have it, finds out that he’s been tricked. Determined to recollect his tuition money, he heads to Costa Rica to confront Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), the owner of Midnight Black, about his malicious online practices. Block admits that some of his programmers created a cheat code without his knowledge and offers Richie a job. Soon, Richie embraces a world that sees all of his fantasies come to life. But when Richie is confronted by FBI Special Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie), he discovers that the fantasy dream that Block has always presented to him is all but a nightmare that may even destroy his life and those close to him.

We hate to say it but we think that one of the biggest issues for "Runner Runner" is its casting of its two leads. The film, on paper, is a heavyweight but the actual execution of Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake never adds up. There was always a certain disconnect between them and us the audience as viewers. Worse, the direction and development of the story was seemingly haphazardly conceived and lacked clarity at key moments. Yes, we do get to see the seedy underworld of corruption, gambling, sex and vices but where it counts the most, the film suddenly feels unbelievable - of note is the film's last stretch where Richie needs find a way to escape from Ivan's clutches. Sad to say, we just couldn't get ourselves into the film and it never peaked our interests. "Runner Runner" had some thrilling components and a premise, while not original, had potential. But the film fails to be cohesive and most importantly, believable.

Rating: 3 reels

Why you should watch it:
- the premise has potential
- "Runner Runner" was engaging on some end

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the chemistry of the two leads is sorely lacking
- the film became extremely unbelievable at key moments

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