A Look At “Runner Runner”

The fall season is usually when we tend to start seeing the best films of a given year – the real Oscar contenders and game changers – but that doesn’t mean that fast-paced, box office-packing thrillers are off the table. One such movie that looks to be a major factor in the fall theater scene is “Runner Runner,” the slick looking crime drama from director Brad Furman (who directed the delightfully tense “Lincoln Lawyer”). The film stars the red-hot Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, and is scheduled for wide release in the United States on October 4.

So what exactly is “Runner Runner?” Actually, for an international thriller of a movie, it looks like something that an increasing number of people can relate to, because it all starts with online gambling. Even if you’re not an online gambler yourself, chances are you can understand and relate to a character who spends his free time playing high-stakes online poker. These days, we all have friends who do it. They might join niche online poker communities and enjoy scheduled games against real opponents. At Betfair’s Arcade, they may even enjoy various video poker and arcade gambling options trying to make an extra buck. It’s common practice on today’s Internet.


Well, Richie (Timberlake) is just such an online gambler. A Princeton grad with a talent for online video poker, he’s cruising along with his money-making hobby until one day he abruptly loses everything. This prompts him to travel to Costa Rica to hunt down the man he believes to be behind the swindling – Ivan Block (Affleck), an international entrepreneur in charge of a massive illegal gambling empire.

Naturally, Block isn’t the type of character one wants to get tangled up with, and Richie quickly finds himself in a series of escalating circumstances. Pulled from one side by Block, and the other by FBI agents looking for an informant to put Block away, Richie jumps quickly from an online gambling dispute to a dangerous lifestyle and various entanglements that put his life on the line.

From the sound of things, this is certainly a movie to get excited about. To begin with, the plot – while extreme – is relatable in its foundation in online gambling and the strive to make an extra buck. Additionally, its two leading actors are proven pros on screen. Say what you will about the Ben Affleck-as-Batman backlash, the man has proven his acting chops in recent years. Throw in Timberlake, whose amusing and compelling turn in “The Social Network” and hysterical but genuine performance in “Friends With Benefits” have put him on the map, and this one seems like at the very least it will entertain.