Princeton grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake), believing he’s been swindled, travels to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Richie is seduced by Block’s promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him.
Online gaming has become a part of everyday life, and there are millions of people who login to play at all hours of the day or night. Wherever you are, as long as you have internet access, you can play any casino game you can think of. Such as this one and you’ll see there’s a choice of hundreds of games at your disposal. With the global popularity of online gaming, it’s not surprising that there is now a thriller movie with online gaming at the centre of the plot. Runner Runner includes two of Hollywood’s biggest names – Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake and directed by Brad Furman.
Affleck has long been well-known for his love of poker – he regularly takes part in World Series of Poker events and apparently often plays high stakes private games with Hollywood friends. So it comes as no surprise that he’s made a movie where the backdrop is online gambling. In Runner Runner, Affleck plays the role of Ivan Block, the owner of an online gaming site, Midnight Black.
Justin Timberlake plays the character of a Princeton student, Richie Furst, who has used online poker to fund his education until he has been caught gambling on campus and is threatened with expulsion. As he feels he has nothing left to lose, Furst puts everything he has left into one last game on Block’s site and loses, but feels he has been swindled.
With no other options open to him, the desperate Furst decides to head down to the site’s HQ in Costa Rica and challenge Block about being cheated. He has stats to prove his case, but Block sends him away derisively. However the next day, Block calls him and offers him what seems like a dream job, paying millions. Of course, Furst takes the job and becomes Block’s protégé, living the high life with him in Costa Rica, and falling for Block’s ex-girlfriend in the process.
It’s not long before he realises that there Block’s business is full of corrupt dealings and that Block has enemies at every turn. For a start, there’s the renegade FBI agent, Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie) who’s after Block even though Costa Rica is beyond the FBI’s jurisdiction. Shavers kidnaps Furst to get him to help him bring Block to justice. On the other hand, the local Costa Rican officials and criminals are also after Block. Furst realises he’s been brought in by Block as a fall guy, but finds it impossible to get out easily.
Although it’s got a good basis for a story, a great cast and location, there’s something about Runner Runner that just doesn’t quite hit the mark. This is a thriller that’s full of action sequences and has its interesting moments, but somehow it doesn’t deliver. Maybe online gaming isn’t the right vehicle for a thriller movie after all!
Runner Runner is in cinemas now I give it 4 out of 10.