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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Action/Adventure, Drama
Cast
Justin Timberlake as Richie Furst; Ben Affleck as Ivan Block; Gemma Arterton as Rebecca Shafran; Anthony Mackie as Agent Shavers; John Heard as Harry Furst; Yul Vazquez as Delegate Herrera
Director
Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer)
Distributor
20th Century Fox
In Theaters
October 4, 2013
On Video
January 7, 2014
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Runner Runner

Runner Runner

Richie Furst almost made his mark on Wall Street. He was rolling with the big boys and raking it in. But his timing was lousy. One market crash later and he was out on Lonely Street without a dime in his pocket.

So Richie moved over to Princeton U. to see if he could better his future possibilities. He was rubbing elbows with the trust fund kids and paying tuition by steering wealthy gamblers to online poker sites. But his timing was lousy, again. The school decided to crack down on campus gambling and Richie was told to cease and desist or pack up and get out.

The only solution seemingly left to the quick-minded number cruncher was to jump onto one of those gambling sites himself. He was sure he could wager his way to the 60 grand he needed for tuition. And, at first, everything was coming up aces. But … well, you know, his timing was still lousy. In spite of all his advanced skills, there were some online scammers scanning for a score. And their statistically impossible play wiped poor Richie out once more.

He was definitely cheated. And on a big-time, well-respected site, no less. With the help of some laboratory geeks who gave him data printouts, he had proof that the game he played (or, rather, the game in which he got played) was nowhere near copacetic.

All he has to do now is bring the proof to the site's owner, the world-renowned mover and shaker Ivan Block. Right? Block'll give back his money, he's sure of it. Otherwise Richie could post his findings online and shut Block's whole gambling operation down.

So off to Costa Rica Richie goes. Sure of himself and statistically certain of his outcome. Of course, there is that whole timing thing.

Positive Elements

Richie isn't above scamming the system himself at times, but at his core he maintains a certain "everyone deserves a fair shot" code. He's also willing to put himself on the line for his father―even though that gambling-addicted burnout was far less than an ideal dad. In the end, though, when the chips are down in a big way, Dad tells Richie to run and leave him to suffer his own consequences … and Richie refuses to do so.

[Spoiler Warning] Richie forms a romantic connection with Ivan's Girl Friday, Rebecca. We wonder throughout if she's loyal, but we find out that she has indeed been truthful and even put her own safety at risk for him.

Sexual Content

Richie blackmails a guy with video of the married man having sex with several women. They're naked, and we see a short but detailed close-up of the recording.

The Costa Rican party scene is rife with women in tiny bikinis, skimpy underwear and formfitting Mardi Gras-style costumes. (Men touch and fondle several of these women.) Rebecca also wears a number of tight, cleavage-baring dresses. We see her and Richie kiss and caress.

Ivan offers to "treat" a pair of towel-wearing men in a steam sauna to massage parlor sexual favors. Vulgar lines reference sex and sexual body parts.

Violent Content

Richie is grabbed and beaten by various assailants―once by a local cop, once by a group of Costa Rican thugs and twice by men affiliated with the FBI. We see parts of the violent scuffles, as well as the resulting scrapes and bruises on his face.

Ivan throws men into a pool of water teaming with crocodiles after covering the victims in chicken fat. One is consumed by the chomping creatures while the other, his legs bloodied, is pulled back out.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 65 f-words and 25 s-words join multiple uses of "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑" and "b‑‑tard." Jesus' name is misused a handful of times. Crude references are made to male and female genitalia.

Drug and Alcohol Content

College kids mill around drinking beer as Richie gambles online in the movie's initial scenes. But once Richie flies down to Costa Rica the booze really begins flowing in earnest. Nearly every other scene takes place at a casino, bar or some other gathering of partying people, with them consuming lots of wine, champagne, beer and hard liquor.

Other Negative Elements

Richie finds out that bribery is the name of the game in Central America, and both he and Ivan spread pay-offs around to the local officials.

Conclusion

Exotic locales. A-list actors. Fast-paced prose. Twists. Turns. And tension. All the action-thriller dice have been thrown, it would seem. Runner Runner is the readymade stuff of Saturday night movie dates, right?

Wrong.

While there are a few appealingly filmed Costa Rican sunsets on display, this flick hold no promise of a moral message, content to be both lazy and incredibly profane. That's a hard mix making it pretty easy to end with this: Those good-looking actors seem to sleepwalk their way charmlessly through a perfunctory collection of disjointed scenes, leaving you and your (by this point quite disgruntled) date with little more than an earful of rancid f-bombs and a ridiculously forgettable plot that tumbles and spins a couple of times before it falls flat as a poker chip.

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