Review: Runner Runner

Poster for 2013 crime thriller Runner Runner

Genre: Crime
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 27th September 2013
Runtime: 91 minutes
Director: Brad Furman
Writer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie
Synopsis: A Princeton student takes on an online gambling magnate and soon becomes embroiled in his dangerous empire.




It’s the silly time of the year for cinema. The summer blockbusters have been and gone and we’re yet to truly hit the wave of awards movies that will pave the way into 2014. To fill that gap comes what is often a shower of mediocrity. Very much in that vein comes online gambling crime thriller Runner Runner.

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) loses all of his college tuition money gambling on an online poker website. Furious, he travels to Costa Rica to confront the site’s owner Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Impressed, Block offers Richie a job and he begins a relationship with Ivan’s ex Rebecca (Gemma Arterton). Before long, he butts heads with FBI Agent Shafers (Anthony Mackie).

Runner Runner is, right from the start, achingly generic. The basic plot arc is taken directly from a series of superior films, including Scorsese’s classic Goodfellas. Brad Furman’s film never feels like it’s anything other than deeply unoriginal and the plot’s later twists and turns completely fail to pack a punch.

Justin Timberlake proves bland in a lead role yet again after the disappointments of sci-fi stinker In Time and arousal-free sexcom Friends With Benefits. His performance in The Social Network showed that he does possess some acting chops, but it seems as if he is better as a supporting character than as a lead.

Ben Affleck is more entertaining, but chews the scenery so hard that it’s a wonder he didn’t break his jaw. Gemma Arterton is relegated to miscellaneous skirt and Anthony Mackie gets meagre screen time ad a generic FBI hard-ass.

The script is incredibly lazy and full to the brim with action thriller clichés. None of the surprises and set pieces really shock or intrigue, leaving a few amusing one-liners to pick up the slack. There’s nothing in here that isn’t begged, borrowed and stolen from a number of other genre flicks. And they’re all better. All of them.

Runner Runner isn’t an especially bad film, and it has moments that work really well, but it’s impossible to escape the insurmountable feeling that everyone has seen this shit before.


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