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Movie Review: Runner Runner “Welcome to the World of Hustlers, Cheats & Courtesans ”

     Released October 4, 2013 Runner Runner co stars Justin Timber Lake and Ben Afffleck with the cast rounded out with new rising stars Anthony Mackie and Gemma Arterton.  The American Crime Thriller directed by Brad Furman and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio is loosely based on the life of Nat Arem a professional poker player and former accountant at Deloitte Touché who helped to uncover cheating in online poker by statistical methods to analyze thousands of games.

     The film centers around Richie Furst played by Justin Timberlake.  Richie used to have a lucrative career on Wall Street; which prevents him from being able to attain financial aid from Princeton University where he is working to attain his Master’s Degree.  After being reprimanded by the Dean for inciting students to partake in online gambling, Richie is left with no choice but to gamble his remaining dollars in hopes to win back enough money to stay enrolled in school.  This plan goes horribly awry and Richie looses all his money.

    In an attempt to get his money back and to prove that he was cheated, Riche enlists the help of his father and boards a plane for Costa Rica. While there Richie unassumingly meets the master mind behind the online gambling ring known as Ivan Block, played by the much loved and hated Ben Affleck.  What later unfolds is sheer madness as things begin to take a turn for the worst leaving Richie to make a desperate decision for the sake of survival.

    While the film boasts of a capable and star filled cast, something drastically lacks in the performance and pacing of this film. At times it feels as though Justin Timberlake is truly  caring the movie all by himself. Gemma Arterton plays well to eye candy but that’s about it. Her performance seems rehearsed and lackluster all at once.  Anthony Mackie continues to expand his acting resume as well as his acting chops. He does a good job in his performance, though I feel he may have been slightly type-cast in playing the good cop- bad cop role.

    Ben Affleck is a superb actor in most roles , however it was hard to truly see him placed  into the macho- ultra bravado American bad guy role that he expected us to believe. Everything seemed painful for him in the film including the sex scenes as well as the much loved fist fights and torture scenes. To put it bluntly Ben was a fish out of water with this particular film. I feel that the box office results and reviews for this film may have fared better had they picked Ben to Produce along side Leonardo DiCaprio and given the spot to another seasoned actor to play the villain.

    Despite it’s numerous flaws, Runner Runner is an enjoyable 91 minute foray into the world of hustlers, courtesans and illegal gaming that sucks you into its world as fast as the movie flies by. Runner Runner will be available on DVD and BLU- Ray January 7, 2014.

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