Runner Runner movie review: A tough beat for viewers

Oct 7, 2013 |
By: Jon Campbell
Everybody gambles.

That's the opening line of the movie Runner Runner as narrated by the main character, Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake). And if you watched the previews, you kinda knew you were gambling when you bought your ticket for this film.

If you've seen it already, you know it was a beat. It's not a meaningless-field-goal-to-cover-the-spread-with-no-time-left sort of excruciating beat. But don't be surprised if you see this movie playing on Spike TV every other weekend on loop within the next year or two.

If you've already spent your money, perhaps you can take some consolation in the fact the House didn't win like it had hoped to either.

Runner Runner earned a disappointing $7.6 million opening weekend when it hoped to earn around $11 million.
The critics aren't helping revenue. Only 8 percent of them on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a positive review and only 38 percent of the audience did.

That's because of a predictable script and another unspectacular cinematic performance from Timberlake.

The worst line in the whole movie may have come from JT during a scene when Ben Affleck's character, Ivan Block, is hurling whole chickens over a dock to ravenous crocodiles below.

"Do you want to throw one?" Block asks.

"What kinda question is that? Of course I want to throw one!"

Ugh. (Spoiler alert: Shockingly, crocodiles are used later in the movie as a tool for intimidation.)

One redeeming facet of the movie is Affleck's performance as Block. He's a wheeling, dealing, smooth talking CEO of the fictional gambling website Midnight Black, who rolls like he owns Costa Rica.

It's nothing we haven't seen before from Affleck. Think Jim Young in Boiler Room. It’s fun and his performance is pretty much the reason the 1.5 hour film holds your attention.

The most disappointing part of the movie though is that we have yet another black eye portrayal of the gambling industry. This movie just feeds the fears of the anti-legalization crowd that the online betting world is a crooked one run by high stakes swindlers.

The American Gaming Association called it a depiction "sadly not far from reality" in a weird marketing campaign to frighten legislators into regulating the industry.

Really? Employees of online gambling sites go from not having enough money for tuition to having entire bed mattresses stuffed to the gills with cash in a matter of months?

I get the point they're trying to make but that doesn't help the industry's cause any more than this movie does.

Instead, see Runner Runner for what it is: entertainment. You just might want to wait for that loop on Spike TV to see it.

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