Thursday, September 26, 2013

RUNNER RUNNER: Predictable Gamble

September 26, 2013

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), a Princeton management graduate student who promotes an online gambling site on campus, earning commissions to pay off his tuition. When the school clamps down on his activities and he loses all his savings on a last ditch all-or-none bet, Furst goes straight to the top, flying to Costa Rica to seek out Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), the kingpin of online gaming.

Block admires Furst's gambling acumen and hires him to be a trusted runner for his business affairs, which slowly reveal themselves to be less than on the level. When FBI agent Agent Zbysko (Anthony Mackie) enters the scene with his threats, Furst discovers he might have bitten off more than he could chew.

Justin Timberlake generally does well as Furst, wide-eyed and excited at first, troubled and harassed at the end. I liked his scenes with his father played by John Heard. I do not really expect much from Ben Affleck as an actor, and again here, he does not measure up. He is hardly believable as a nefarious gambling lord who could feed his enemies to crocodiles. 

The beautiful Gemma Arterton is totally wasted here. She does not get to do much, and she does not have any chemistry with any of the men she is supposed to be in liaisons with. Anthony Mackie plays the FBI agent too over-the-top to be convincing.

The story was too familiar to be exciting. The relationship of Justin and Ben (and Gemma, for that matter) were too dry to be engaging. The gambling jargon was too hard to follow to be interesting. The ending is too obvious to be worth the time spent watching.  Director Brian Furman does not rise above the limitations of the script he has.  4/10.

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