Runner Runner is the slickest piece of garbage you'll see all year. It looks really pretty but doesn't contain a single original thought. It's a huge embarrassment for Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck and should ensure that Gemma Arterton will never be a star in America.
What's most egregious is that the film thinks it's smart and clever but it's dumb as a box of rocks. It's filled with historical references but also hampered with clumsy voiceover laced with poker references. It doesn't trust you to realize Timberlake has a plan to get out of dire straits; he has to say in voiceover that he has a plan.
But how did he get there? Well, far too quickly, we're introduced to Timberlake at Princeton, on the verge of graduation with a mountain of student debt. He's also on the verge of expulsion for promoting a gambling website he frequents. He, for absolutely no reason, decides to gamble his life savings in an effort to graduate debt-free and ends up losing it all. Thanks to a friend in the analytics department, he determines it wasn't just bad luck; it was cheating.
So instead of trying to find some sort of logical recourse, he flies to Costa Rica to confront the site's owner (Affleck). He's supposed to be an ultra-bad guy, but he's neither menacing nor seductive enough to be convincing. Gustavo Fring he is not. After two brief meetings, Affleck not only pays Timberlake's gambling debts but also offers him a job. Anyone could see this is a deal with the devil--except Timberlake of course.
Instead of simply following the story until Timberlake gets in over his head, the film introduces an FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) to blackmail him to bring in some dirt on Affleck that can be used in court. So now he has to play both sides and convince us he's smart enough to pull something like that off. But he can't. I think Timberlake's a fine actor, but he's just not good here even though the script should carry much of the blame.
One of the biggest reasons the film falls apart is that there's never any sense of danger. Affleck feeds one guy to a crocodile, but that's the only evil thing he does. The longer the film goes on, the more bored he looks. There was a possibility of a juicy villain role, but Affleck seems more put out than terrifying.
There's absolutely nothing I can recommend about Runner Runner other than how beautiful the locations look. But maybe that means you should just keep your $10 and start saving for a Costa Rican vacation instead of spending it on this dreck.