Runner Runner is an American crime thriller film that was directed by Brad Furman, written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman and starring by Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Anthony Mackie and Gemma Arerton. It was released on 4th Oct, 2013, grossed $62 million but received generally negative review due to its not so unique nature.
Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a candidate at Princeton University and a marketing representative for online gambling firms. Unfortunately, the dean put an end to his referral business. Since he could no longer keep up with his tuition payment, he risks his remaining savings in the hope of winning at online poker only to see all drained away by a player with an uncanny win ratio. Convinced that someone has hustled out his tuition money, he takes a flight to Costa Rica to meet Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), CEO of the company that Richie suspects of cheating. Impressed by Richie’s gambling knowledge, Ivan offers him a dream job as the manager of the company with a seven figure salary. However, it is long before Richie is contacted by Shavers, an FBI agent who puts Richie in great danger
Shortcomings of the film
Generally Runner Runner is a generic and flat drama film from the beginning to the end. It fails to do anything interesting with the gambling subject which in the end is nothing more than a familiar story about opportunistic business people and corrupt officials.
The biggest drawback is the film story that moves so fast leaving no time to develop dramatic tension. The brief 90 minutes is spent highlighting key moments between characters but failing to provide subtle moments of story development that separate the great drama stories.
Whenever momentum seems to stall, Furman introduces a new character or a threat –Agent Shavers is brought into the mix for some yelling or someone gets punched in the face- because the characters and the story are too thin to maintain interest independently.
Another major shortcoming of this film is the lack of interconnectivity between the characters and the gambling world. Throughout the film, Furman attempts to keep reminding viewers that Runner Runner is about gambling through exposition and metaphors.
As a result, we can conclude that Runner Runner is a shallow and superficial representation of the gambling world. It prioritizes of generic story rather than innovative drama. However, the few solid performances along the line hint that Furman lost sight of any captivating hooks in his film and instead delivered a familiar and bland narrative that takes very few risks.