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The Daily Tar Heel

Movie Review: Runner Runner

Runner Runner

“Runner Runner” takes a look into the world of online gambling in all its glory — and its consequences.

Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake team up as mentor and apprentice, which seems like the makings of a power duo, but only Affleck truly delivers.

This under-dramatized “thriller” falls a bit short in more ways than one.

Richie Furst (Timberlake) plays a Princeton marketing major who is an affiliate to online gambling sites where he receives a commission that he puts toward his tuition. As gambling is illegal on campus, Furst is caught and the dean threatens expulsion. He decides to bet his entire bank account in an online poker game to hopefully earn everything he needs to pay for school. He ends up losing everything and believes the site is rigged.

Furst flies to Costa Rica to confront the site’s owner, the notorious multi-billionaire Ivan Block (Affleck). Furst gets ahold of Block and shows him the evidence. Block initially blows him off, but later agrees to give him his money back and offer Furst a position in his gambling business. Furst immediately accepts and at first, it’s everything he ever wanted.

However, Furst begins second-guessing his decision when he is kidnapped by FBI Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie), who tells him that Block is running a crooked operation. When things start to go south, Furst realizes Shavers may be right and Block could be hiding something.

“Runner Runner’s” main problems are casting mistakes and improperly used dramatics. The 32-year-old Timberlake is not a believable college student and comes off as too stressed and whiny for the intelligent gambler that he is supposed to portray. In terms of dramatics, the film has a great build-up to the climax but unfortunately follows through with a dull delivery.

In contrast, Affleck’s performance as the villain is flawless. His calm attitude makes him simultaneously trustworthy and extremely intimidating, a deadly combination.

Wait until “Runner Runner” comes out on DVD and, if anything, have it be a lesson to avoid gambling with your tuition money.

Kristina Kokkonos

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