Directed by: Brad Furman
OK, let’s start this off correctly. We think that Runner Runner is an incredibly stupid name for a film (unless of course it was the sequel to Logan’s Run) which this so clearly isn’t. That aside, this isn’t that bad a film. To be sure, it isn’t that great either, it is just “OK.”
Richie (Timberlake), a Princeton college student teacher pays for Master’s degree with not only his own on-line gambling, but actually by hooking undergrads into gambling with his online patrons. That is until he a) gets tagged by the dean and told to stop, then bottoms out when he gets busted in a game of high stakes. Shortly after he loses everything, he comes to realize that he was cheated, and determines to head out to Costa Rica (where the game center is housed) in order to confront the on-line mastermind, the mysterious Ivan (Affleck), whom he believes has swindled him. Only when he gets there, it turns out that Ivan isn’t that nefarious (or so it seems) and (apparently) choose to bring Richie into his operation. (Again apparently Ivan sees a kindred spirit in the younger Richie.
Tapping into Richie’s savvy (Richie was for a time a player on Wall Street, and when he got caught insider trading was sent to jail, upon his release he was attempting to rehabilitate his image by teaching at Princeton, in order to get back to the Street). However, offered this new life, Richie jumps in with both feet, bringing in some of his friends and former students. Unfortunately for Richie, when the stakes get so incredibly high and far too dangerous, Richie comes to fully understand the deviousness of his new boss and attempts to turn the tables on Ivan. This is when he faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him.
Richie soon learns that people who bargain with piles of other people’s money, are often less than honorable, and then the people with whom they deal (read: buy off), also prove to be even less trustworthy. The film goes down precisely the course you would expect it to, and winds up exactly where you can see it going from 10 minutes into the first act. Again, not atrociously horrible, but all-in-all, not terribly involving either (it is tough living in post-apocalyptic depression America and be entertained by people with no moral values or ethics swimming Scrooge McDuck-style in piles of money).
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.