Richie Furst is a former Wall Street guru turned Masters student who is cheated out of his tuition on an online poker site. Taking his evidence to the site’s founder he is offered everything he’s ever wanted: wealth and ladies. And he only has to become a criminal to get it! Can he escape his life of crime (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Runner Runner.
How?! Richie Furst is a poor widdle former Wall Street guy who, having been unjustly robbed of his wealth due to the financial crisis, is now forced to get his Masters from Princeton (gross). Trying to make ends meet for tuition in the only legal way he knows how, he loses all his savings playing online poker. Given that he’s way too smart to lose he suspects treachery and uses big ol’ computers and his brain to discover that what happened is mathematically impossible. He decides to go straight to the source and confronts the owners of the poker company in Costa Rica and is all like “math, bitch.” The founder, Ivan Block, is impressed by his bravado and big brain and decides to give him a job and everything he’s ever wanted: ladies, money, and power. Richie of course suspects nothing of getting such an offer from an obviously terrible criminal like Ivan and is like “OK,” like a dope. From there he continues to act like a dope by throwing away all his scruples to blackmail and bribe people just like Ivan tells him too. Even when FBI agents are all up in his business he’s like “but Ivan said…” because he’s actually an idiot. However, when his friends start to bail on the company and one discovers that it’s actually a Ponzi scheme set up by Ivan, it finally dawns on him that literally everything is pointing towards him being involved in a terrible criminal activity. Uh oh! When his dad is used by Ivan as a bargaining chip, Richie has had enough and starts to set up an elaborate scheme to get the upper hand on Ivan. So when Ivan turns around and tries to move the company to Antigua, leaving Richie as the fall guy, Richie is already one step ahead and bribes the pilot to reroute his plane to Puerto Rico. Once there, Ivan gets arrested and Richie, with his big ol’ brain and his new girlfriend, fly off into the sunset. THE END
Why?! We can start from the beginning. We know that Richie is motivated mostly by greed. He feels somewhat robbed by having earned a bunch of money on Wall Street and watching all his money disappear while others got away with millions. He again feels somewhat robbed when he loses his tuition money in a rigged online poker game. This double swindling of our boy Richie apparently breaks his brain because this turns him into a criminal motivated only by greed. We even see him blackmail a guy who is about to have a new baby by purposefully tempting him with hookers and filming it. That’s just a shitty move, man. I know the guy is also shitty for giving into the temptation but our main character is just clearly a terrible person for purposefully setting all that up for a business deal. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m making this section so long. The motivation here is greed across the board. We are forced to watch a bunch of greedy assholes for two hours and it sucks.
Who?! There is a very brief cameo by the DJ Deadmau5, who is DJing Ivan Block’s very exclusive party. It’s funny to think that in Hollywood you can be like, “hey we need a bunch of money to get Deadmau5 to DJ the fake party for the movie in order to lend credibility to the scene,” and then they just have a massive party and Deadmau5 is shown for less than a second. Also Laurence Mason (aka Lord Nikon and the reason we watched this terrible film) goes uncredited because his scene as the Governor of Antigue got cut… but don’t worry I saw it on the DVD extras. And indeed, totally unnecessary to the film.
What?! Lots of the classics in this one: cars, TVs, phones. I do like JT being like “no thanks” to the expensive stuff people are drinking because he can’t get enough Bud Light. Also they hide all of the evidence of Ivan Block’s nefarious deed in boxes of cereal, but mention that they use cereal that no one wants to eat… always makes me curious why companies would agree to have their cereal used in a film where the main character is like “that cereal is gross.”
Where?! Fantastic fantastic fantastic setting film. We start in Princeton and jump straight over to Costa Rica, which plays a prominent role in the plot. I’d have to look around but this almost certainly will be the top Costa Rica film we’ll get for BMT. Add it to the (imaginary) map! A
When?! The beginning of the film takes place in December most likely as it’s somewhat cold in Princeton and our boy Richie leaves just before finals (but don’t worry, he got extensions). From there it’s all lost to time. He could have been working for Ivan for a few months or over a year. Hard to tell. D.
I haaaaaaaaaaaaaated this film. I actually found it hard to watch. Despite being an objectively nice looking film (can’t go wrong with an exotic locale), I couldn’t understand how they wrote a film where I never cared what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t care whether he got the girl. I didn’t care how Richie was going to get out of the clusterfuck he got himself into. I just didn’t care. He was a criminal and a terrible person and I’m supposed to care about whether he gets out of the jam he’s gotten into through his own greed? No thanks. I’m not even sure whether the plot was coherent (probably not). And I’m not sure the acting is all that good (almost certainly not). I didn’t care. Because this movie sucked and I didn’t want to watch it. Not since Mile 22 have I had a collection of bozos I cared less about. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! This film had too little exciting poker action, and a little too much garbage people doing garbage things to each other and making me hate them … you know? Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t have much hope for this film to be honest. Here’s the thing, we always kind of get forced into films in the chain reaction category towards the end of the year. Regardless, I suppose I was most excited for the Costa Rican settings, I want to see those vistas! What were my expectations? Again, low low expectations, but if there could be some thrills and the film didn’t make me hate the main character and gives me something to root for I would have been delighted.
The Good – Not much. I mean, it looks good. They do a lot with the interesting setting. It certainly focuses on a unique subject as far as a film goes. Online gambling doesn’t get much play in Hollywood. I like Affleck and he does a good amount with the role in the end. And he gets his comeuppance. But otherwise it is pretty rote nonsense.
The Bad – JT is genuinely awful and it is kind of no wonder he doesn’t get a lot of leading man roles. He’s a decent second banana, but he isn’t a very good main character. Speaking of which the main character is a garbage person, and I did not care for a moment whether he lived or died. He did so many bad things in the end he kind of deserved everything he was getting. The glorification of these terrible people exploiting gamblers and living glamorous lives in the Central America doesn’t really make a compelling movie in my opinion.
The BMT – Naw screw this movie. I have no intention of ever watching this again. It does have the setting going for it. We would have watched it either way eventually I imagine as it is far and away going to be the best Costa Rica movie ever released. Plus it got actually destroyed by the critics, and it isn’t the worst goal to watch every sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film ever made … there aren’t really that many of them. Did it meet my expectations? No, JT is a terrible person in this film and I didn’t care if he lived or died. That’s all I wanted with this film and it did the exact opposite.
Roast-radamus – I actually think this has a decent shot at the Bad section of the awards as I think both Jamie and I really didn’t like the film. I initially couldn’t remember a good Product Placement (What?), but then Jamie reminded me that JT guzzles Bud Light throughout which is awesome. I think looking through the rest of the things the only obvious one is Setting (Where?) and honestly it could win it. It is such a Costa Rica film it is amazing. Every country should get such a terrible film made in / about it in my opinion.
StreetCreditReport.com – Incredibly despite being a relatively rare sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film it gets nary a mention on the year end lists. Only a small dishonorable mention on IndieWire. I would think this is maybe like … the second worst gambling film available. I’m of course referring to 21 as being the worst. It may not have gotten as bad of reviews, but I can assure you it is terrible. It didn’t help that the book that movie is based on (Bringing Down the House) is fantastic, and they just completely throw it out for … again, wait, it just ends up being a weird techno-thriller with a love story. It is the same movie! Two peas in a pod showing the evolution of gambling from Vegas card counting to online fraud … great.
Sklognalysis – Ohhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiit. It’s back. You see I have like 40 films to watch over the next few weeks so I couldn’t really be bothered to go with my original plan of watching Rounders. Instead I’ll go through some thoughts I had on thrillers after watching Swimfan and Runner Runner. With Swimfan I was rather upset. You see, in that film a high school student cheats on his girlfriend with a psycho who then proceeds to frame him for murder, dope him with steroids, and generally destroy his life. In Runner Runner you have a greedy garbage person getting stuck in a jam because of his greed and terrible behavior. You see the difference? In Runner Runner the consequences were proportional to the misdeeds of our protagonist. Which made me think of how thrillers like these are often morality tales of a sort. You commit a sin (lust in Swimfan, greed in Runner Runner), you get punished, you find redemption. But the punishment has to be proportional to the crime. You blackmail a family man and bribe some officials, you get framed for drug trafficking in response. You cheat on your girlfriend in high school and … fill in the blank, but the answer isn’t that your friend is killed, you get framed for his murder, and you get doped with steroids to ruin your life … that isn’t proportional, you see? This could, perhaps, be something fairly common in many genres across the board, but thrillers seem the most appropriate. The tension of seeing someone succumb to base desires, acts often left unknown and unpunished, getting punished in a spectacular and terrifying way, and narrowly escaping to find redemption is thrilling. I guess that is where Runner Runner fails … Timberlake doesn’t just succumb to base desires, he dives head first into a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck and just expects to get away with it like a goober. It just makes you feel gross. I’ll leave it at that, but I’ll be looking at other movies for such desires going forward for sure.