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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Review: Runner runner

movies@hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 05, 2013
First Published: 00:18 IST(5/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:53 IST(5/10/2013)

Runner Runner
Direction: Brad Furman
Actors: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck
Rating: **

Perhaps the only purpose served by this formulaic thriller is that it warns viewers against the perils of online gambling. Keep off the temptations of easy bucks on the net, is the moral of a story which is not only un-involving but does precious little in augmenting the status of Ben Affleck, whom the entire world expects to see in roles of substance, after the Oscar-grabbing Argo.

Presumably, he took on the part of an 'entrepreneur' with dirty hands in Runner Runner, directed by Brad Furman because it is co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio or maybe he expected to score some points in a role that goes against the archetype of a good guy. He's duplicitous and cheats a Princeton University student of the tuition fees he needs to stay in campus. The student (Justin Timberlake), however, won't take it lying down.

On losing out, he traces the online site to Costa Rica, and flies there. Predictably, the student is tempted by the ultra-cool gambling kingpin to become his right-hand man, promising him a future packed with gazillions. The student's as gullible as they come. A pawn in the kingpin's game, he must save his skin also from the FBI, who're coercing him to bust the gambling racket.

The thin storyline is sought to be propped up by the mandatory ingredients of the romantic interest, exotic locations, sporadic chases and tepid action bouts of the kind you've suffered over the decades. The cat-and-mouse charade between Timberlake and Affleck is much ado about nothing eventually. Don't expect any high-voltage sparks of acting from either.

Timberlake looks good, acts okay. Affleck's performance is better forgiven and forgotten. Come to think of it, so is the rest of Runner Runner.

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