A run of the mill soap opera masking as a gambling thriller which hails the second coming of Badfleck and confirms that Timberlake can’t act.

Richie, a Princeton college student who pays for school with on-line gambling, bottoms out and travels to Costa Rica to confront the on-line mastermind, Ivan, whom he believes has swindled him. Ivan sees a kindred spirit in Richie and brings the younger man into his operation. When the stakes get incredibly high and dangerous, and Richie comes to fully understand the deviousness of his new boss, he tries to turn the tables on him.

Runner Runner’s premise is timely and intriguing.

However instead of fleshing out its premise and exploring the virtual gambling world, it focuses on generic melodramatic twists. Hot shot with daddy issues is taken under the wing of some Machiavellian sleazeball and gets spoiler alert betrayed, but takes home the female token of the film. In between you have lavish parties, payoffs, romance, and Richie’s climb to the top of the ladder.

I guess you can’t really blame the director because online gambling is basically some dude in front of the computer.

The last resort then is to make do with what it has. Unfortunately the film fails at this too. When it finally picks-up as Richie lays the groundwork for his escape, it’s completely tension free, contrived, and predictable. It can’t even manage to pull off its own rip-offs – watch Ivan lamely cut a fish head in front of Richie and feed his enemies to alligators in an attempt to show that his bad-ass and dangerous.

Its two leads doesn’t have the appeal nor the talent to pull off their characters.

Ben Affleck, who directed films to get roles because Hollywood has stopped giving him any, is completely wooden and flat. Justin Timberlake, who for some reason gets a lot of roles and desperate to be a serious actor, can’t emote and scrunches his forehead instead. Both are overprivileged douchebags who play douchebags onscreen, and neither of them are the least bit convincing.

Gemma Arterton is underused and relegated as the love interest.

Runner Runner is not even mediocre, its just plain bad. The backdrop and sets look vibrant, but that isn’t enough to distract you. Conventional movies can still become enjoyable if it has redeeming qualities. Runner Runner offers none.

My Rating: 3/10

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