Film Review: Runner Runner

Runner Runner

Runner Runner features an interesting enough premise, but the execution belies this fact.

Princeton postgraduate student Richie uses online gambling as a way to pay for his tuition fees. When he gambles his savings hoping to make his next instalment, Richie notices something unusual about the online casino. Richie travels to Costa Rica to track down the site’s owner, the mysterious Ivan Black…

Director Brad Furman’s film had the potential to be an entertaining and competent picture. The set up is interesting enough. However, the narrative is not particularly smart; shifts can be spotted a mile off.

The narration does not do Runner Runner any favours. The voiceover would have been fine as an introductory device, but it is carried the whole way through the film. The dialogue is poor at times, and the gambling analogies are overplayed. There are a couple of humorous lines, but more that are unintentionally funny.

For a crime thriller, Runner Runner lacks the tension required to really grip viewers. Furman fails to give the film a sense of apprehension in pivotal scenes. There is no sense of danger, even in what should be perilous situations. Similarly, despite the ongoing theme of corruption, the film feels sanitised rather than seedy.

Richie is a suitable protagonist, functioning as an everyman out of his depth. The constant voiceover does not really endear him to viewers however. Ivan is more of a caricature than anything else. Rebecca functions as a pretty face but not much else; the character is flimsy at best.

Performances in the film are adequate. Justin Timberlake is fine as Richie, while Gemma Arterton is given little to do besides wear flattering dresses. Ben Affleck offers a little swagger as Ivan, but is never really nasty. This is the fault of the material more than the performance.

Runner Runner is not irredeemable, but it is not a successful thriller either. A rather forgettable movie.