Review: Runner Runner


Runner Runner

Runner Runner is an enjoyable by-the-numbers tale of doublecross directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer). Scripted by Rounders and Ocean's 13 writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, it stars Justin Timberlake as Richie Furst, a Princeton whiz-kid who gets in over his head when he travels to Costa Rica to confront Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), the online poker mogul who cheated him out of his college tuition.

Rounding out the cast are Gemma Arterton as Block's bewitching business manager/ex-girlfriend, and Anthony Mackie as the FBI agent pressuring Richie to turn informant.

Furman shoots from a handheld point of view with a narrow focus that makes the movie feel a little smaller than the lavish playboy surroundings where most of it takes place. The shaky-cam does little to liven up Affleck's wooden performance, which seems designed to prove his talents are best used behind the camera. At first jovial then progressively cruel, Block never expresses any emotions outside the range of Affleck's Dazed and Confused role as Fred O'Bannion.

Timberlake, on the other hand, is born to play the down-on-his-luck golden boy.  Relying on charisma, luck, and being just enough smarter than the other guy, his Richie is not far removed from his previous lead role as Will Salas in 2011's In Time, which at least had enough action and special effects to make it a more memorable film.

And that is the unfortunate bottom line for Runner Runner. The unusual title refers to a poker term for drawing two cards to make a winning hand, or in other words, being extremely lucky.  The movie is fun, it's brief at only 91 minutes ... and unfortunately it's unmemorable as anything but a minor vehicle for one star with the power to rate a better script and another with the cachet to direct his own efforts.