AS it crawls beneath the underbelly of the gambling business, Brad Furman’s thriller gets good energy from a screenplay by Brian Koppelman and David Levien.
Having bet his tuition money online and lost, Princeton MBA student Richie (Justin Timberlake) travels to Costa Rica to confront casino and online operator Ivan (Ben Affleck). Ivan, a smooth operator on top of the gambling trade, engages Richie to work for him. Before long, Richie is, if not wallowing in money, living somewhat higher on the hog and certainly ahead of where he was when he got there.
And he’s doing alright with Ivan’s former squeeze Rebecca (the spectacular Gemma Arterton).
Ultimately, “Runner Runner” is about money and not only the people who accumulate it by providing punters with the chance to gamble it away, but also the infrastructure for paying off crooked officials. Richie may be a whiz at the mathematics of gambling but is putty in their hands.
The action is vigorous, the narrative complex and the locations colourful. The gaming environment is enticing. But gambling has two rules. The way to make money is to own the game, which becomes a succulent target for bad guys. And betting more than you can afford to lose is a mug’s game.
For film-goers, the tensions between Richie, Ivan, the FBI and Rebecca offer excitement, although their resolution is a bit hard to swallow.
At all cinemas