Film Review – Runner Runner

Runner Runner (M)

Directed by: Brad Furman

Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton

One and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Perhaps Justin Timberlake is only good in small doses on the big screen. The singer making his way in films has made so few remarkable choices, particularly with his lead roles, that his impressive turn as the slimy but super slick entrepreneur in The Social Network is beginning to look like a fluke. His appearance in the disastrous In Time certainly didn’t do him any favours. Taking on the wide-eyed, naïve hero in Runner Runner also ensures that his film career idles just the little bit longer.

When he tries and fails to multiply his $17,000 in savings to pay off his Princeton University fees, online gambling whizz kid Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) loses everything. Being the brainiac that he is, the struggling student begins to investigate and uncovers a glitch in the website, indicating that those who run it are cheating the players and taking off with their money. Richie hops on the next plane to Costa Rico (his monetary source for flights and accommodation is a minor detail conveniently overlooked) to track down website owner and millionaire Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Richie’s honesty gets him a job with the shady business owner, but the new favourite employee discovers he has entered a dangerous world that he may not be able to escape from. But his occasional trysts with his sultry colleague Rebecca Shafran (Gemma Arterton) tends to soften the sting.


Surprisingly short but incredibly dull, Runner Runner fails to make us interested in the phenomenon of online gambling, the shifty goings on that it has spawned or these characters that are caught up in the intrigue, making this 90 minutes feel like a much less exciting Lord of the Rings marathon. From the obvious, underwritten characters to the Scooby Doo reveal at the end, this is a lacklustre script constructed with little care. So flat is the material that it’s not even laughably bad enough to be mildly entertaining. This toothless thriller can’t even get the blood pressure up with the presence of a few hungry crocodiles.

The actors don’t appear to be trying, not that they have much material to work with – Timberlake trying once again to carry a film on his shoulders has little screen charisma, Arterton is required to do little more than act sexy and Affleck occasionally shouts. Their uninspired performances are merely a reflection of the script.

3 Responses to “Film Review – Runner Runner”

  1. As mentioned in a previous review, this film is a bit too familiar to be an exciting watch. Having said that, the performances, particularly Affleck, were of good quality and each leading actor portrayed their characters well. This is not an intelligent nor original film, but the location and storyline do add a sense of refreshment to the formulaic ‘good guy trumps’ action/thriller plot. I enjoyed the film. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, nor was I glued to the screen, but the fact that we had the whole screening room to ourselves meant that we could quip freely about what was going on, and this naturally added to my enjoyment. There were a few unintentionally funny moments, mostly near the end, but that may be more of a personal observation and many viewers may have a different view on that. Affleck was convincing and strong as the shady, ruthless business tycoon and delivered his lines with appealing finesse. Timberlake was a good choice for the role as an initially thin-skinned Prinston student, and his development as a character was well-timed throughout. Overall, I enjoyed the film, but it’s not one I would rave about to friends. ‘Prisoners’ was showing at the same time and while I haven’t seen it yet, I can say with a relative degree of certainty that it would be a more compelling and rewarding watch.

    More about the movie you can also find it here

  2. […] Runner Runner – everything about this supposed thriller that delves into the world of online gambling is so […]

  3. First of all I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before
    writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts
    in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any recommendations or tips? Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: