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on 5 March 2014
In the Eighties, legend has it, the US armed forces hit upon the idea of encouraging Hollywood to make recruitment films for them. Thus, An Officer and a Gentleman, Top Gun, Navy SEALS and Private Benjamin (okay: maybe not Private Benjamin) were bankrolled by Uncle Sam specifically to make the military look glamorous so impressionable minds might sign up. As far as my mates were concerned it had the desired effect. Since we were slap bang in the middle of Nowheresville, South Pacific, they enlisted not for the Top Gun program but as RNZAF cadets and wound up clanking around the Chatham Islands in a forty-year-old Hercules. As far as I know they’re still doing it now. As a consequence, to this day none of them can abide Val Kilmer. But no matter.

Latterly this military recruitment tactic seemed to have fallen out of favour, but it might be back: Ben Affleck’s new movie Runner Runner plays so moralistically as a lecture against the evils of online gaming you have to wonder whether FBI’s Cybercrime Fraud folk didn’t have a stake – excuse the pun.

Subtext: online gaming can corrupt innocent and brilliant minds all too easily.

In Runner Runner, the possessor of said innocent and brilliant mind is a chap whom we note, with some irony, made his name corrupting them: Justin Timberlake. His character is Ted, or Fred, or Jack – not 20 minutes after the credits rolled I honestly can’t remember – a wily Princeton brainbox, already in penury for inciting games of chance amongst his college buddies, and about to get in a bit deeper when he starts mixing it with Mr Big on a Carribean Island.

Oddly, Timberlake has transmogrified himself from jailbait sex magnet into a faintly oatmealish actor (if Affleck is Theodore Logan, Timberlake is William S. Preston all over) whose only remaining mystery is how he ever passed for a sex symbol, even to a twelve year old, in the first place.

Affleck here plays the more charismatic part of dastardly e-Casino magnate Ivan Block. Still, this is a dramatic return to form for an unremarkable actor who has, of late, been doing a fine impression of having more to him than ever used to meet the eye.

Unltimately, Runner Runner is simply a paint-by-numbers Overcoming the Monster yarn with a strange title. It relies for its glamour on the absurd contrivance that people who set up online gaming companies in places like Costa Rica actually go out there and live in Bachanalian Xanadus, humping scores of prostitutes and throwing hapless local thugs to crocodiles. Here’s the news, folks: the only people who make money in tax havens by actually living there do so by preparing board resolutions. No crocodiles.

In this alternative universe (the same one inhabited by Tom Cruise’s The Firm, incidentally) there is therefore an exotic locale for Oatey Justin to voyage to, and armed henchmen, dopey customs officials, sharp-dressed undercover Feds and foxes by the armful to kick the meagre plot along. Gemma Arterton plays a budget Bond girl who seems to have been sprayed with Ronseal fencing stain.

Duly kicked, Runner Runner certainly canters along. It is not blighted by continuity errors, dialogue howlers or the dull and awkward moments that beset the comparable but inferior Savages. It isn’t a bad night out, but it’s short a car chase or two to be a decent actioner (charging round a carpark with a handycam is no substitute), and is missing a sandwich or two from the picnic hamper if it’s trying to make a political point.


Olly Buxton
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on 30 May 2014
Richie is a student who's having trouble paying his tuition.

He helps other students who want to gamble online, but for a small fee. When he gambles online himself, he loses but believes he was cheated.

He goes to Costa Rica, where the site is generated from, and shows the owner, Ivan Block, proof that he was cheated.

Block then offers him a job which he takes, and begins to learn how he does business. But the FBI want to nail Block, and intimidate Richie to help them......

The structure for films like this are as old as the hills.

Good guy confronts a high powered businessman, said man offers big money, there's always a good looking girl involved, cops close in, businessman tries to frame good guy, and so on.

When you watch this film, you could be forgiven with thinking that the makers have completely ripped off Wall Street, because the narrative flows in the same way that movie did, Guy thinks he's made it, but his world comes slowly crashing.

Even the dad's get involved in both movies.

To criticise this movie would be too easy, it's been done hundreds of times before, much better, but for a piece of fluff movie, with nice locations, and good looking people, you could do a lot worse.

Timberlake isn't the best actor in the world, but he can hold his own, and he has decent chemistry with Arterton, who is really just there as a plot point to get Richie and Ivan in some sort of subliminal feud.

If you thought Affleck was great in movies such as Paycheck (which he obviously did this movie for), Gigli, and Deception, you've got him back here.

He's phoning it in, and you know he just took the part for the money, and the holiday.

Mackie is the best thing here, bringing a little tension and humour to a stale narrative.

It's a dud, for sure, but it's a guilty pleasure.

Take a gamble.
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on 27 November 2013
The plot surrounds Richie Furst who used to have a great job on Wall Street. Unfortunately, that ended and Richie goes back to college to complete his post grad. However, due to his past employment, he cannot get any help with tuition so he has to pay it all himself. Richie's character is extremely intelligent and figures that he can get sign ups to an online gambling website and receive a cut of everyone who signs up. But, the dean of Princeton threatens to expel him if he keeps it up. I liked how the beginning of the film set up the explanations of online gambling and the way that people chase money on there. But, after that, it all got a bit too crazy and unrealistic.

You see, Furst runs off to Costa Rica to confront the owner of the website face to face. He knows Ivan Block in incredibly hard to get to but figures it's worth a try anyway because he's desperate. Even though it's stated that Ivan Block is hard to get to, Richie seems to manage it with very little trouble at all. Playing Ivan Block is Ben Affleck who has had a bit of a bad run of acting jobs in the past few years. However, I quite liked him in this role for the most part. He plays a character that is quite smarmy and slick, who knows that he can do pretty much whatever he wants. Affleck acts cool, calm and collected for the most part but is also able to lose his temper and show the meaner, more devious side to him when he needs to. Even though he did a good job, there are loads of actors who could probably have done better.

Justin Timberlake hasn't had that many roles since hitting the film business but he does always manage to switch it up a little bit. In Runner, Runner Timberlake plays main character Richie Furst. I found Timberlake to be absolutely fantastic in this film. At the beginning he is confident, clever and doesn't see that he's doing anything wrong. It's only when he loses all of his money gambling online that he begins to change. He makes the change from Princeton student to wealthy and stylish very quickly which goes to show what money can buy you... a nice suit! Anyhow, Timberlake manages the transition pretty damn well and became more likeable as the film went on due to what was happening to him. However, I would have liked to have seen Timberlake lose it a little more towards the end of the film as he was too calm for what was happening around him.

Runner, Runner doesn't have the most complicated or exciting plot because basically, it's been done before. This is a film that doesn't really offer anything new which was quite disappointing. While this may not be an original film, it is still very entertaining. There is plenty going on throughout, even with a slow start, and there are little clues being dropped everywhere. I enjoyed watching Richie get to grips with his new life and to figure out exactly who he could trust around him.

There are also a few things that didn't make a whole lot of sense. Richie is supposed to be incredibly intelligent but he doesn't see what's going on around him until quite near the end of the film. He also should have been able to outsmart Ivan with ease or at least do more about what was happening. Not only that, but if he was so clever, he should have probably known that Ivan's offer was far too good to be true. Things like that just don't happen. It's a shame that such little issues let this film down.

While I did enjoy Runner, Runner, it could have been such a better film. The plot was quite standard and there were problems throughout. One to buy on DVD when it's cheap though.
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on 29 February 2016
A tidy little action film and overall nothing fundamentaly wrong with it. However the implementation of the plot feels rather matter-of-fact in parts and could use a little more punch. A couple of moments when I thought it had just thrown in a big twist and thickened the plot but then it would lose steam again and fall back to what would eventually become a rather timid and predictable conclusion.
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on 21 October 2015
I went a long way from my usual sort of preference mainly because I watch on Prime and I've run out of decent scifi. I didn't think I was going to enjoy this and I found the lead actor annoying at first. I didn't think that the beautiful aide de complice would fancy him in real life and the story began a bit slick. Then I found I was getting more interested as the plot wove a pretty tangle. I liked it, loved the spaghetti western karmic ending.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 November 2013
Ritchie (Justin Timberlake) is a student at Princeton. He goes on line and gambles away his tuition money, and afterwards realizes that unlicensed off shore on line gambling web sites are dishonest. GOSH! Richie gathers the statistical evidence and travels to paradise to meet up up Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) the owner of the web site. Block recognizes Richie's genius and invites him in for a big slice of the pie. Richie recruits some of his nerd friends to help him out. About 30 minutes into the story the FBI (Anthony Mackie) confronts Richie and wants him to be an informant...or else he can never go back to New Jersey and maybe New York. Richie is faced with a dilemma of being super rich in paradise with Ivan's girlfriend Gemma Arterton clinging to him or Newark. Oh what to do, what to do.

No one plays for free.

The film is mostly a light action drama. Timberlake and Affleck looked good on the screen and tried to give some life to a tired script but only succeeded in appearing unconvincing in their roles, especially Affleck. The dialouge had some good lines, but needed more. It wasn't a film that I could get into. I couldn't help think about "21" which is a far better gambling film.

When you play against a computer designed to take your money, it isn't gambling.

Works as a rental.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. Implied sex. No nudity.
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on 6 January 2015
pretty poor film. really wish I hadn't wasted my time watching it. Justin timberlake please stick to singing as I really don't like you as an actor. or a singer to be frank.
a good cast apart from him but I found the story boring, drab and unimaginative.
if you like the tricks and trades of gambling then you will probably enjoy this, from this point of view I suppose the plot is good.
but for me what a load of rubbish
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on 21 October 2015
good basic plot in a great location and a cast who can act

but poor, wooden acting made it unbelievable. Either direction was poor or the actors just turned up for the money. Even two criminals being fed to crocodiles failed to garnish any emotion.

I was bored and twice moved away to make a cuppa or check e-mails which never normally happens with movies.

Watched on Amazon Prime.
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on 10 April 2014
Within the first 20 mins you witness Justin Timberlake transfer all of his savings to an online gambling site and then he proceeds to lose every penny, 5 mins later he is on a plane to Costa Rica, staying in a fairly nice apartment in an attempt to meet the guy who runs this site to try and get his money back as he believes he was cheated. This is one of many plot holes, we saw the guy's account was empty so did he rob a bank on his way to the airport?
Any how, if you can ignore the plot holes you're left with a fairly average thriller. It could have been a bit better without Justin Timberlake, he's just not a convincing lead, at no point did I care whether his character was going to get out of this scrape or not and that completely destroys any intended tension there was present in the film. Ben Affleck was actually the one keeping this film a float, he was perfect as the slimey, sleazy guy who bought his way out of any situation but without a decent actor to play off or better than average writing, the film fails.
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on 27 April 2014
The movie is about an internet gambling magnate/crook,Ben Afleck,and a guy who makes mistakes ,but is not reaaly bad.Justin Timberlake.
I never found anything interesting in Ben Afleck,as an actor.He has "elevated" his inability to act into "style".His voice rarely fluctuates,his facial muscles rarely move.That about sums up his acting.Add to it another mediocre actor,Timberlake,an improbable and unnecessarily confusing script,and a director who does not know whether he is coming or going,and you have just about summed up this movie.Oh,yes.Include a couple of "exotic countries",a lot of money,a girl and a "happy ending " and you just have the epitomy of what contemporary U.S. movies stand for.
Very little.
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