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Set in the high stakes world of online gambling, Brad Furman's Runner Runner follows Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) as he goes from a former life of privilege to fighting for his life while trying to sort out the problems he created for himself. Richie is about to be kicked out of Princeton for encouraging gambling on campus, and then when he gambles everything he has in an online poker game and loses, he goes to the source to try and get it back.
Richie heads down to Costa Rica, the HQ for Midnight Black, one of the largest online gambling sites, to see if he can get a face-to-face with Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Richie calls Block out, publicly, for his site cheating him, but Block seems content on shrugging his shoulders and sending Richie away. The next day, a little more privately, Block offers Richie a job in his organization, and after seeing what Block has, Richie knows that is what he wants.
Without getting into too much detail, what follows is a series of convoluted sub-plots that involve a high ranking Costa Rican official (Yul Vasquez, Captain Phillips) who expects to be bought out by Block's enterprise, the underdeveloped love triangle between Richie, Block and Rebecca (Gemma Arterton, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters), and the presence of an FBI agent (Anthony Mackie, Pain & Gain) who is hellbent on bringing Block down.
Without the likability of both Timberlake and Affleck, Runner Runner isn't really going anywhere. Their scenes together are easily the best parts of the movie, and it does tend to lag when one of them, especially Affleck's Block, isn't on the screen. Affleck plays the shady bad guy well, and it seems like he had fun doing it. Timberlake starts off as the innocent type, but his character gains more confidence as the film goes on.
Of the supporting cast, Anthony Mackie gets the most screen time as the FBI agent trying to bring down Block. He provides some of the funnier moments of the film, especially when it comes to him doing the "good cop bad cop" routine with a local police officer. Gemma Arterton, playing Block's girlfriend who falls for Richie, is mostly eye candy throughout the film, not really adding much besides being the bridge between the two main characters.
While not a terrible movie, it's probably not one that will be remembered forever, either. Timberlake and Affleck bring the star power, which might be enough to get some people to see it, but it's a safer bet to catch this one on Netflix.