Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Runner Runner: Movie Review

Lives the meaningless life for way too long to provide much substance.

College student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) survives by using poker winnings to pay his tuition, but when he goes bust on an online gaming site, he’s determined to make a name for himself by exposing the fraud. Unfortunately for Runner Runner they didn’t spend much time with the smart, capable and struggling-to-get by Richie, who could be an intriguing form of the “every-man”. He gets turned into a money-grubbing success story way too quickly. 2013

Directed by: Brad Furman

Screenplay by: Brian Koppelman and David Levien

Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck

The positives of Runner Runner include Richie and how he's going to pay tuition (he's smart but not rich), and then how he's going to expose the fraud of online poker sites. But that's all wrapped up in the first third of the movie.

Richie arrives in Costa Rica, meets with entrepreneur Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) and instead of getting any kind of upper-hand, Ivan decides he’ll use Richie’s smarts and determination as a way to further their income and superficiality. That's the second third of the movie.

Just like the characters said, the movie is like everything you thought you wanted when you were 13 years old. Girls in sexy dresses, check. An exotic resort where you could do whatever you wanted, check. Play in a casino all day long, check. Make tons and tons of money, check. And just keep flashing money and lights and sex until everybody realizes that you don’t actually have a story. The locals in Costa Rica did look gorgeous; Gemma Arteron did look gorgeous. But that's all it was - distracting you with beaches, girls and money since there was nothing happening, nor anything to say.

Then, once everybody is bored of the over-hyped superficiality, give them a twisted plot with criminal mob bosses and fraudulent financial schemes. That's the final third of the movie. A nonsense crime plot with shady criminals, shadier criminals, and just really bad criminals. The last third of the movie did in fact have a plot which is better than the second third of the movie which didn't have any story, but this story just wasn't good.

I was expecting the criminal mob bosses because it is a Hollywood crime thriller after all, but luckily the implications of what Richie and Ivan are up to can keep the film somewhat interesting to the end. But they didn’t have anything else to drive the rest of the film. A life of nothing meaningful means a film of nothing meaningful.