Runner Runner

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Jan 14, 2014
Runner Runner

Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck co-star in "Runner Runner," a so-so thriller about a smart, computer-literate college kid at an Ivy League school (shades of "The Social Network") who isn't from a rich family and can't easily pay his tuition (shades of "The Skulls") and who falls in with a criminal mastermind in the gambling underworld (shades of "21"). Any of those other movies (yes, even "The Skulls") are probably better than this one, which has zero suspense to offer. Worse, the story is so formulaic that you can see the seams, the ribs, and, practically, the "Tab A" and "Slot B" labels.

At least Affleck makes for an entertaining bad guy: Charismatic, ruthless, and alpha-male. Timberlake's kid, however, is laughably slight. John Heard shows up as the kid's washed-up father. (He was better in "Sharknado.")

What makes up for the film, a little, is a special feature titled "House of Cards - the Inside Story of Online Poker." This is essentially a documentary about how online gambling took off with such dazzling speed and with so much money quickly in play that the United States (in its reflexively Puritanical way) banned it -- while other countries decided that simply regulating online gambling would make more sense because A. that way, they didn't criminalize vast swaths of ordinary people, and B. any big business as big as online gambling makes for a good source of tax revenue.

The documentary is a Blu-ray exclusive, but both discs offer the same slate of minor additional extras: Deleted Scenes and the Theatrical Trailer.

"Runner Runner"
Blu-ray / DVD Combo

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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