Call me old school, but when I like to gamble, I want video poker, cigarette smoke and a couple white russians. That’s just me. In todays day and age however, you can gamble practically everywhere and anywhere you want, including on your computer. Online gambling has become quite a hot commodity, in fact hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year right from your home computer.
In Runner, Runner, Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a Princeton Master’s Degree student who is having a hard time paying his tuition after getting bumped off Wall Street when his hedge fund job went belly up. Richie has been referring people to an online gambling site, for a small commission, but when Princeton gets wind of it… Richie’s got some explaining to do.
But instead of cleaning up his act, Richie decides to win his entire tuition in one evening, go big or go home. Shockingly, Richie is being beaten online by someone that doesn’t know a flush from a pair of Aces. Somethings not right here. So Richie does what anyone would do. He gets a friend to help him prove that this was fraud, flies to Costa Rica, confronts the owner of the online site, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) at a party, and try to get his money back.
Well, maybe not everyone would do that… But then there wouldn’t be a movie. Ivan isn’t all that happy to hear this, but low and behold he not only gives Richie his money back, but he puts him on the payroll! Nice, JT! NICE!
Of course Ivan isn’t what he seems, and Richie falls victim to not only Ivan’t charms but a pawn for all of Ivan’s evil deeds. Richie’s life starts to fall apart and the FBI is on his tail.
Justin Timberlake is actually much better than you would expect. JT hasn’t fared well in his theatrical efforts but here, he seems a little more comfortable than he did in his past movies. He didn’t quite nail the part like you would have wanted. A master’s degree at Princeton? Really? And those abs were just natural. Still, Justin Timberlake is highly watchable and fares well.
Ben Affleck is another computer genius, (do these guys go to extremely good looking computer hacker schools? Perhaps with Sandra Bullock from The Net?) and he doesn’t fare as well as Justin Timberlake. He tries to be the bad guy, but you don’t really buy his performance. It’s like, he’s acting like a bad guy, to the point you expect him to start twirling his mustache but underneath it all, he really wants you to like him.
The video quality of Runner, Runner is exceptional as one would expect from a recent release. The colors are crisp and the details are fine. The shots of the surrounding areas in Costa Rica are a nice contrast from the lavish homes and parties featured throughout out the film.
The special features however are fairly light. There is the original theatrical trailer, about 10 minutes of deleted scenes, an a pretty cool look at online gambling called House of Cards – The Inside Story of Online Poker. It features some cast interviews, but does go into the backstory of online gambling.
Overall, while Runner, Runner isn’t going to go down in history as a classic thriller, it’s a fine diversion for a movie night. Online gambling is an interesting subject matter and has the makings for a taunt thriller, however, this one just isn’t a royal straight flush.
Runner, Runner is out now on Blu-ray
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