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Movie review: High rollers and lowlifes in shallow 'Runner Runner'

Published October 4, 2013 11:15 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The crime thriller "Runner Runner" tries to wallow in its unsavory element and be smarter than everyone in that element, and fails at both.

Justin Timberlake plays Richie Furst, a Princeton grad student who gets into online gambling and loses his shirt in what turns out to be a rigged Internet poker site. Richie goes to Costa Rica to confront the site's billionaire founder, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), and ends up working for Block — and becoming a new target for an FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) trying to get evidence of Block's crimes.

The script isn't as sharp or twisty as it needs to be, and director Brad Furman ("The Lincoln Lawyer") is more concerned with surface details — from Gemma Arterton's sprayed-on tan to putting Timberlake's contractually obligated brand of beer in his hand — than on smart storytelling.

Affleck is subtly menacing as the avaricious villain, and his walk on the dark side bodes well for anyone worried that he'd be a bad Batman.

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'Runner Runner'

Opens Friday, Oct. 4, at theaters everywhere; rated R for language and sexual content; 91 minutes.