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Runner Runner - Review

Runner Runner

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

IT MAY boast an appealing cast and an intriguing plot but taking a gamble on Runner Runner ultimately doesn’t pay off.

Here’s the deal. When Princeton whiz Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) loses all of money in an online poker scam he travels to Costa Rica to confront the site’s shady owner, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Once there, however, he’s offered a lucrative position within the company with rapid advancement possibilities so long as he’s prepared to sell his soul.

Furst does just that until matters become complicated by a dogged FBI agent (Anthony Mackie), corrupt officials and a distracting love interest (Gemma Arterton) who also shares history with Block.

Directed by Brad Furman (of The Lincoln Lawyer fame), Runner Runner looks good and tip-toes in some interesting waters. But it ultimately cheats its viewers of anything to sink their teeth into.

The story would rather stick rigidly to the type of conventions established with films like The Devil’s Advocate but even then feels like it’s going through the motions. The film does rather telegraph it’s moves.

The performances, meanwhile, feel shackled by the constraints of the plot with Affleck, especially, not given enough room to do anything really interesting or surprising with his character. Timberlake is OK as Furst but struggles to really generate much sympathy for his plight, while his relationship with Arterton is virtually chemistry free. But then the British actress feels particularly poorly served by a screenplay that doesn’t really seem to know what to do with her other than provide eye candy.

What little tension the film has dissipates long before the underwhelming and smug conclusion. Audiences are best advised to call the film on its bluff and take a gamble on a more deserving one elsewhere.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 91mins
UK Release Date: September 27, 2013