October 7, 2013 Leave a comment
Gambling, exotic locations, extravagant parties, fast cars and more, the movie Runner Runner, starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck showed so much promise and potential, however it didn’t live up to the hype and ultimately under-delivered and underwhelmed.
The movie revolves around a Princeton graduate student who gambles his tuition money on an online poker site. Richie Furst (Timberlake) is a former Wall Street rising star and numbers guru, so when he loses his money he digs deeper, cracks a betting pattern code and uncovers a cheating scandal. Rather that out the company on the internet, message boards, etc. Furst travels to Costa Rica to confront the man behind the site, Ivan Block (Affleck).
Once there, Furst gets sucked into the promises of an eight figure salary when Block brings him into the inner circle. What starts out as a fun lifestyle of cars, women and money soon turns dark when Furst finds himself in the middle of a cheating, extortion and racketeering FBI case and realizes that Block has brought him in to take the fall for the crimes.
What the film did right?
- We found the casting decisions of Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck great. Both played their roles in impressive fashion.
- The development of the Timberlake’s Richie Furst character. The film follows Furst from NJ to Costa Rica. It also gives us insight into this family history and past.
What the film did wrong?
- Ivan Block is the most interesting character in this movie, and the one we know the least about. We learn about the Richie Furst’s past and see his character being built throughout the film. We wanted to see the same character development with Block. How did his business get started? What drives him? What parts of his past led him to this point? We simply are told he is the “guy” and are forced to accept he is the antagonist without any real setup.
- The film attempts to keep up a fast pace and in the process moves to quickly. Are we really supposed to believe Furst (a college student trying to pay his tuition) will just accept his new scandal driven extortion and bribery lifestyle. Furst comes to Costa Rica to approach Block and let him know of a cheating scandal on his site, although once brought in his moral compass essentially evaporates. There is a disconnect somewhere.
- We learn that Block’s partner/assistant Rebecca Shafran (Gemma Arterton) is his former love interest. She takes a new romantic interest in Furst. At first it seems this will create an emotional and dramatic love triangle, however Block lets it go. This would have been another opportunity to develop the characters – especially Arterton’s character. We still aren’t crazy about the casting for this important role either.
- Lastly, the lead up and previews really played up the “inspired by true events” angle. The only thing apparently inspired was that online gambling companies are/were based in Costa Rica. While we’re not naïve and assume there was plenty of bribery and extortion going on during the off shore gambling boom, the other events portrayed as true seem a little far fetched. We would have rather seen a movie about real people. We would group this movie in with films like Blow and 21; however those films tell the stories about real life people which creates a better product in the end.
We did have high hopes for this movie. And we still enjoyed it. However, once we assessed a little deeper we saw the cracks in the foundation. We look at this movie as a beautiful home that is built to perfection on the outside, but once inside you see the builders were cheap with the finishes and cut corners which ultimately ruins an otherwise great foundation and structure.
Runner, Runner is a 2013 American crime drama thriller film directed by Brad Furman, and written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. The film stars Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton and Ben Affleck, and was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher. It was released in Belgium, France and the Philippines on September 25, 2013, and in several other countries on the following days. It was released in the United States on October 4, 2013.