Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
gambling in the Bible
Should Christians be involved with lotteries or other forms of gambling? Answer
sin and the Bible
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer
corruption / corrupt officials
Justin Timberlake … Richie Furst
Ben Affleck … Ivan Block
Gemma Arterton … Rebecca Shafran
Anthony Mackie … Agent Shavers
Michael Esper … Billy “Pet” Petricoff
Oliver Cooper … Andrew Cronin
Christian George … Wilson
Yul Vazquez … Delegate Herrera
John Heard … Harry Furst
James Molina … Esteban
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Double Feature Films
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|Distributor||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Play, or be played.”
Richard Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a young guy looking to make some cash, in the wrong way. Richie, a Princeton University Grad Assistant and employee, has an addiction to online poker (apparently it’s a family thing). During one session of online poker, he is cheated of his money and decides to confront the head of the online poker company Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) in person in Puerto Rico.
After confronting Ivan about the mistake, promising not to tell the police, Ivan admires Richie’s tenacity and offers him the chance of working on his staff. Months go by and Richie is doing well. That is, until the FBI confront Richie and tell him about Ivan’s dealings in the black market and tell him that Richie will go down with Ivan if he doesn’t help the FBI out. Will Richie stay loyal to Ivan or will he attempt to escape and assist the FBI?
For the first time in a while, I am at a loss for words (and not in a good way), so this will be a short review. I like Ben Affleck (I saw him in “Argo” and chalked that film up as one of his best so far), and, in a way, Justin Timberlake, but I’d have to say that this was not a good choice for either of them to be in. It’s not that their performances are terrible. Overall, this film, in my opinion, is not as poorly made as other critics have suggested, but something about this movie made me say, “Wait… what?”
What you saw in the trailers and in my synopsis is about the extent of the plot. It’s not a complicated story, and it’s not intended to be. The ending is somewhat predictable, and I felt this story lacked character development. There is a main (?) character, Richie’s father, who makes brief appearances in the film, but we don’t learn anything about his past (other than his gambling addiction) or what happens to him. Technically speaking, the camerawork is fine and the scenery of Puerto Rico is absolutely beautiful. And yet, I walked out of the theater with a “well that was fine, but it could have gone better” feeling.
Vulgar language: When I am “marking for content” on my clipboard, every time a character curses I discretely use my cell phone light to help me write tally marks on my checklist. Let’s just say my light was on A LOT tonight. F-bombs are obnoxious and consistent from both Richie and Ivan (I counted 86 instances, including one instance of mother-f**ker). In addition there are multiple instances of sh*t (two in the form of sh*t-hole, two in the form of bull-sh*t, one holy-sh*t, and three of bull-sh*t). Other crude profanity includes the terms “balls,” “blow job,” “pussy (2x),” “stones,” “b**tard,” “piper(?),” “screwed,” and “banging”
Violence: Richie is kidnapped by the FBI and thrown into the back of a van. There are two fight scenes and a disturbing scene (from the trailer) where a crocodile eats a person, covered in chicken guts, after being pushed into the water.
Sex/Nudity: The MPA forgot to put the term “nudity” in their rating as there is a scene where Richie watches a video where his friend (who, by the way, is going to be a father) is having sex with two Puerto Rican women (the women are naked, the camera showing us the backside, and we can partially see one woman’s breast). Throughout the entire film, women can be seen in see-through outfits, bras and panties, and in other revealing bikinis and cleavage-bearing outfits. The gaming commissioner, in one scene, references and slaps a woman’s behind, pointing at her butt and describing how he gets “first class, not coach.” There is also a sex scene between Richie and Ivan’s co-worker Rebecca. There are many sexual references made, and, at the beginning, Ivan is seen in a massage parlor with two older gentlemen in towels.
Other Content: There are scenes involving smoking, drugs, and alcohol. There are also multiple scenes are partying. This film is somewhat dark in nature overall.
There is not much I can pull from this film in terms of honest, good messages, and I can find one in almost any film. Every law official, local and FBI, are crooked and can be bought, and no one really learns anything redeeming at the end of the film (except maybe Richie… maybe). An overall lesson that could be drawn from this is that gambling, whether you believe in it or not, when not taken care of can become a problem and can lead to a life where money, not God, becomes the focus of your attention. The Bible states, “You cannot have two masters… God and Money,” and that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Gambling, in some sense, is a form of loving money, never having enough, and that’s when it can become a problem even when we know that God is the ultimate provider.
Critics did not speak well of “Runner Runner.” After seeing this myself, I can’t disagree with them. This could have been a great film, especially with Ben Affleck starring in it, and, content aside, this could easily have been a movie you could rent at the local rental box when it comes to DVD. But it’s not. This movie is not for kids, teens, or adults. If you really want to see an edifying film this week, consider “Grace Unplugged.” Bottom line? Skip this. You’ll be grateful you did.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Extreme—including “F***ing Chr*st” (2), “For Chr*st’s sakes,” “Christ,” “Oh G*d,” hell (6) / Sex/Nudity: Heavy to extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.