Film Review: RUNNER RUNNER (directed by Brad Furman)

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by John Todd on June 1, 2020

in Extras


If you love watching gambling movies, this post is for you.

Runner Runner is an online gambling movie by Brad Furman and was initially released on 18 September 2013. The film starred Justin Timberlake as Richie, Ben Affleck as Ivan, Gemma Arterton as Rebecca, and Anthony Mackie as Agent Shaver in significant roles, although the movie made $62.7 million it is actually considered to be a disappointment from director Furman.

Despite the sizzling hot star-cast, this movie failed to impress the fans. But we must say that Mr. Furman has a great sense of casting. This can also be seen in The Lincoln Lawyer, which was released in 2011 and it was truly a delight to watch the classic courtroom drama. The actor Matthew McConaughey did a commendable job as the main lead. Again in The Take, he presented Bobby Cannavale — who is also an Emmy winner — in a supporting role. The timely casting trend went on, and he again signed Justin Timberlake, who has given us blockbuster albums, and Ben Affleck, who has directed an Oscar-winning movie. Yet again, Runner Runner was not as great a film as it could have been with such a powerful star cast, whether it was the shortcoming of Furman as a director or the weak storyline is is a good question.

To the storyline: Timberlake plays the role of Richie Furst, who is a young grad student at Princeton University. Furst is an ex-striving Wall Street worker whose career came off the track due to 2008’s wreck.

When Richie tries to pay his tuition using his outstanding poker skills, he loses all his life’s savings to a online poker cheater. Richie then finds out that the online poker site he was playing and lost on is cheating the players

Young Richie then travels to Costa Rica to claim his money by confronting Ivan Block, who is the owner of the biggest online gambling websites, including the online poker website which Richie got cheated on. When Ivan (Ben Affleck) looks at the statistics, he discovers that there is something fishy in the software. There must be something wrong done with code that allowed the players to cheat. Ivan kicks out the involved person from his empire he asks Richie to assist him in the business and stay in Costa Rica.

Then enters beautiful Gemma as Rebecca Shafran, who is an ex of Ivan. Richie, in no time, gets romantically involved with Shafran (No… Ivan was absolutely fine with it!).

Ivan wants Richie to blackmail one gaming partner using a video of him cheating in order to make him sign with him. FBI agent Shaver (Antony Mackie) gets his hand on Richie and threatens him to destroy his life if he doesn’t help him to catch the online gambler king Ivan. You must be thinking, why can’t he do anything on his own with all his legal power..?

The answer is, he is restricted from taking any action in Costa Rica as he has no authority.

Ivan’s huge empire gets revealed to be unethical over time. He then sends his smart agent Richie to bribe Herrera, who is the gaming director at Costa Rica. The the bribe amount was so little that it gets Richie beaten so severely. Ivan consoles him, saying that it is completely normal in such a lucrative business.

Richie’s problems worsen when he tries to leave the country, but again FBI agent Shaver’s strikes him with his smart, dirty tactics. He plants drugs in his bag and tries to make a deal with Richie, saying he would overlook it if he would come to his side and cooperate with him to convict Ivan. Andrew Cronin, one of Richie’s friends and an employee of Ivan. He tells Richie that Ivan is a big fraud, the players don’t really get the money when they win. Instead, Ivan uses all the funds of players to fill his own bank accounts. Players only get a small amount when they need to play further.

When Ivan gets a hint about Richie is leaving him, he buys a huge debt of Richie’s father and plans to use him as a hostage.

Let’s keep it short, this continues… Ivan plans to move out of Costa Rica, leaving no evidence behind. Little did he know that Richie will do every possible thing to take revenge on him. He joins the party of FBI agent shaver.

When Ivan flies off the country in his private jet, he sarcastically calls Richie to apologize to him, but when he lands, Ivan comes to know that he has been betrayed. Richie already set the pilot, and the pilot takes him to Puerto Rico instead where Shaver, along with the other officers, are waiting for him. The love birds Rebecca and Richie fly away in their own jets, and Richie leaves behind a flash drive that has all the proof for convicting Ivan.

So, this was pretty much the story. As you can see, it is a pretty mundane story which may seem interesting but very boring. Although the cast is good, and even the cinematography is not that bad, the story is not that great. Primarily because at all times, you can easily predict the whole plot. There is nothing sort of a climax or suspense. Critic reviews even say that it is no less than a dramatic soap opera.

Timberlake didn’t do anything extraordinary, and it feels like Ben Affleck was performing a bit off-script, and that actually makes his performance really watchable.

Overall, this movie is not that great and is pretty boring. If you’re really searching for a legit online gambling movie, then you will be disappointed!!

Some sources that was used in making this article: for understanding how online casino sites works, and for fact about the movie Runner Runner.

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